I used objects.
We sang, “Skip Count, skip count, count by twos!”
I’d laid number cards out on the floor and we’d played a skipping game, counting by twos.
We did clapping games, counting by twos.
She wrote the numbers, (counting by twos), on paper, in addition problems, on the board. She counted by twos in math problems and “jumped” over the skipped numbers on a numberline.
Over and over and over again.
Now I have no more stories to tell. I feel stuck. How many ways can I teach someone how to count by twos? “Lord, I need a breakthrough. How else can I teach this concept?”
I stare out the window. Sunshine falls across my face. I revel in the bright blue sky. In the dead of winter, clear blue skies are rare in northwestern Pennslvania. Over and over and over again.
I wonder how many times a day I raise my hand and say, “Mr. God, I don’t know this one!” I’ve never bothered to count.
My mind wanders. I remember the schooldays when I’d sit down with my mathbook in the evenings and cry. My Dad would explain the math problem five different ways and sometimes I still didn’t get it. I’ve made the same mistakes over and over and over again. Most of the time in my life, progress is painstakingly slow.
“Mrs. Shafer,” My student sidles up to me and thrusts her paper under my nose. “Mrs. Shafer, is this right?”
8+2=10. I smile. I give her a side hug. “You got it sweets! I’m so proud of you!”
“Compute the next problem, please,” I remind her as she sits back down.
She poises her pencil purposefully over her paper, a little smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. I realize my words of affirmation have blessed her. I pat her shoulder. She looks up.
“Did I do good, Mrs. Shafer?”
“Yes, sweets. That’s right. You did a very good job.”
2+2=4. 2+6=8. 2+10=12. The answers are coming now.
The power of words. Assurance. Affirmation. Encouragement.
The breakthrough came. With me.
One student struggling with a math concept + one teacher learning what’s truly important = two human people learning painstakingly slow
Two people + two lessons to learn = four means of redemption