On October of 2008, while I was getting ready to leave school to go home at the end of the day, my 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Dunn, told me that she had put me in a regular math class. I didn't know what to think or say. I wasn't sure how to respond to the news. She said that if I didn't pass the class, then I would be placed back into Special Ed Math. After leaving the classroom that Friday, I thought about what my new math class was going to be like.
"Nicole, you're going to be starting Pre-Algebra on Monday," my mom said happily. My mom had tried to take me out of special education since I was in the 6th grade because I would only be in one classroom for all four subjects and I would only be around disabled students instead of normal students. I wanted to tell my mom that I wasn't ready to be mainstreamed in math, but she insisted that I take the class. My sister was too young to understand my situation since she didn't know that I had a hard time learning. I thought that my new math class would be in a bigger classroom with more students and one teacher and my own aide to help me with my work.
I had a feeling that my new classmates wouldn't like me and bully me because of my learning disability. Math wasn't always my best subject, but I felt that I had to pass the class so that I can please my mom. "Are you going to fail on purpose?" my mom asked.
"No, I'm not going to fail on purpose," I said. I didn't want to disappoint my mom. That Monday after the weekend, Mrs. Dunn came with me to meet my new math teacher. I felt better knowing that I didn't have to meet my teacher alone. After entering my new math class, Mrs. Dunn introduced me to my new math teacher named Mrs. Bunt. She was tall and wore glasses all the time. She never smiled.
The math class was smaller than I thought, I didn't have an aide with me. My friend named Dan Arnold was in my math class, I felt better knowing that I had a friend in class. I have known Dan since 6th grade. I became friends with the three girls that were in my math class. Their names were Danielle, Jessica, and Frankie. "This class isn't what I thought it was going to be," I thought.
As the school year went by, math was a lot harder than I expected it to be. "Nicole, hurry up with your work! I can't give you extra time," said Mrs. Bunt. I have never been told to hurry up with my school work before. I was expected to have the work done in a fast pace. I had to forget about the extra time that I had in my other classes.
"Why am I in this class when I can be back in Special Ed math?" I asked myself. Whenever I failed a test, Mrs. Bunt would scold me, and she would make me feel dumb. "Do you understand what I'm teaching in class?" asked Mrs. Bunt, angrily.
"No," I said feeling ashamed.
"Well then you need to ask for help," demanded Mrs. Bunt. I then realized that my math teacher didn't like me. I showed my mom the bad grade that I got on my test. "How did you fail this test?" my mom asked.
"I hate my math class. Just put me back in Special Ed math," I said sadly. My mom refused, saying that it's too late for me to be put back in Special Ed math. I felt like I didn't know anything because the teacher never paid any attention to me. I thought that it would be a good time to tell my mom about my math class, but I just couldn't find the words.
Whenever I tried to be friendly with the teacher, she would put me down or talk down to me. She wasn't very nice to me and she thought that I was dumb. I had a feeling that I wasn't going to have a good experience in a mainstream math class. "I hope that I never get mainstreamed in math again because it's too hard for me," I thought. Being mainstreamed in math was a bad idea from the beginning.
"So Nicole, how do you like Pre-Algebra?" my friend Brianna asked.
"I don't like it. It's too hard," I said. I have known Brianna since 6th grade and she knows when something is bothering me. We talked about my math class when we had time to talk in cooking class. I felt better telling my friend that I was having a hard time in math, I was still ashamed to tell my mom what was going on in my math class.
"If you have a problem in class, you should tell me so that I can help you," my mom said. How can I tell her that my math teacher made me feel dumb, and that Pre-Algebra was too hard? I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings if I told the truth about my experience in Pre-Algebra. I didn't know what to do. When I entered high school, I was placed into Special Ed math.
I felt like I didn't belong in Pre-Algebra. I didn't want to be in that math class because of the teacher. Whenever we had a substitute teacher, she was nice to me and helped me with my work. I felt better getting help from the substitute. Math has never been easy for me, even if I tried to succeed. My mom wanted me to have the same opportunities as everyone else.
I told my dad that I needed help with my math homework and he helped me. I didn't tell him that I was having problems with my teacher. We would work on my homework basically every day. He would try to help me understand the math. It was too hard for me.
At the end of the year, I got my report card at school and I got a C minus in math. It was close to a D. I thought that I was going to get a D or an F, which means that I would be placed back into Special Ed math. I felt good that I didn't fail the class.
I wish that I had told my mom when I was having problems with my math teacher. If I had told her seven years ago, she would have helped me with my problems in class so that she can talk to the teacher. I surprised myself into doing better than I thought. I told my mom a few months ago about what happened in my math class. I felt so much better getting it off my chest. She says that I should move on and forget about it because it's in the past. It turns out that my mom didn't like the teacher because she said that she had an attitude.
Even though my experience in a mainstream math class was bad, I learned that it's okay not to understand something that you have never learned before. My bad experience in the mainstream math class made me realize that I can have a better experience if I get the help that I need and talk to my mom or my dad if I have a problem with my class or the teacher.