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As An Adult


I’m sure you’ve heard it said before that there is not a manual for how to be a parent. Certainly that’s true. There is also not a manual for how to be an adult. As a result, there are certain things people assume you know since you’re an adult even if that’s not true.

You’re Hired

Some adult tasks you may not ever really need to know since you can hire other people to do them for you. I have never done my own taxes and my guess is many people reading this have not either. I’m sure I could do my taxes if I read up on it and put my mind to it, but there are plenty of certified accountants who I can pay to do it. To me, I’m glad to be able to pay people to do things I’d rather not do anyway. In fact, the list is long of adult tasks I’d rather not do. I’m grateful the world is filled with people of all different talents and interests so I don’t have to know and do everything myself.

You’d Do It If You Loved Me

Then there are adult tasks you rely on people you love to do for you. For example, I will admit I have never changed a tire in my life. I don’t know anything about tires, in fact. Knock on wood, I have only ever had a flat tire by myself once. It happened when I was about two miles away from my house driving by myself. During the drive home, I noticed my car was pulling in one direction and I had to muscle the steering wheel to stay straight. That didn’t seem right at all, but I didn’t know why it was happening. When I got home I told my husband about it and he freaked out. He immediately knew what had happened and couldn’t believe I continued to drive on the flat tire since I could have damaged the wheel. What did I know? Luckily, he was there to lend a helping hand and helping knowledge. The list is long of adult tasks and knowledge I don’t personally have because I have benefited from the know-how and knowledge of my friends and family. Once again, I’m grateful the world is filled with people of all different talents and interests so I don’t have to know and do everything myself.

I Had No Idea

Sometimes there are things in life you don’t even realize you don’t know. Over this past summer, I attended a professional learning session for math teachers. At the session, we discussed a general lack of "number sense." If you're not sure what number sense means, you're not alone and you’re likely not a math teacher. In the November 11, 2017, post for parents, "Demystifying Math: What is Number Sense," teacher Jennifer Hogan writes:

What is number sense? As a teacher, I’ve been asked this question over and over again by many parents. To answer, I talk about the importance of it and why your children need to build strong number sense, but many parents don’t feel comfortable with the topic. It's not a term they're familiar with or one used when they learned math. Plain and simple, number sense is a person’s ability to understand, relate, and connect numbers.

If you're someone who finds visuals helpful to learning, this video created by Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and author, is a visual model to help explain number sense.

When I watch this video I am struck by how many different ways there are to solve this one problem and why having number sense is so important. I am also struck by how, when I was taught math as a student, I only learned one way (see below).

I wasn't taught to think about the numbers and what they represented. I didn't consider any other options to solve 18x5 nor could I have drawn an image to represent what 18x5 looked like. All of this to say, if you learned math prior to the changes in the math standards circa 2009, your number sense is probably similar to mine, i.e., low. In other words, you likely learned the traditional "plug and chug" method of math as I did and you didn’t even know learning number sense would have changed the way you thought about mathematics.

Unlike the ability (or desire) to do my own taxes or change my own tire, a lack of number sense is not one of those areas I am okay with farming out. Certainly I can pay someone to do my taxes or rotate my tires, but there are certain skills I feel are really important no matter what your age, profession, or interests. Having solid number sense is one of them and it makes me sad mine is not as strong as I’d like it to be.


So, in addition to being grateful the world is filled with people of all different talents and interests so I don’t have to know and do everything myself, I am also grateful to teachers. Here’s the thing, though teachers are adults who didn’t get a manual to be an adult, they did go to school to be a teacher. You can’t learn everything you need to know to be a teacher (or anything else for that matter) in school, but it certainly makes a difference.

I have the wonderful luxury of working with teachers and watching them work with students. Teachers not only need to know the content of what they're teaching, but also the best way to help someone else learn the content. I marvel at how easy teachers make it look. I think this ease was on full display during the March-June 2020 shutdown when parents were thrust into trying to teach their own children. Just because a parent may be able to write the essay, do the math, answer the science and social studies questions themselves, does not mean they know how to help their child do it. That’s the job of a teacher. This is why you have to learn how to be a teacher—being a former student and/or knowing how to do the work yourself does not prepare you in how to help someone else learn to do the work.

This leaves me wondering, as an adult...

  1. What is something you (a) don’t know how do to yourself or (b) you pay others to do so you don't have to?

  2. What is something you rely on a friend or family member to help you with or do for you?

  3. What is something you’re grateful for that teachers teach to students so that you don’t have to?


P.S. My Catch of the week is the book book Orchestrating School Change by Michael Murphy. This is the best resource I know of related to implementing change in schools. What I appreciate most about Orchestrating School Change is that it is applicable to any change in any school (from schedules to standards, textbooks to policies) and that the text is so clear and practical. It's a book I've read over and over and recommend to anyone looking to lead change in a school.

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