dear elementary school teachers,

Please, please, please, please do not, when doing examples on the board, use the equal sign (=) incorrectly. For instance:

1+1=2+4=6-3=3

1+136 etc.

Similarly, when simplifying fractions:

3 + 1 ⅜ = 4 4/8½

Is also wrong.

The “=” means “is equal to.” Please keep that in mind.

It will make my work a lot easier. Believe it or not, but your students copy your wrong work and do math that is wrong. Furthermore, they misunderstand the vital importance of setting everything on either side of the “=” equal. My guess is that this is why they find algebra so hard. And so, instead of grading homework that is blatantly wrong (that is part of my job at an after school tutoring center), I can whiz through so many more math worksheets in a minute that I might actually get some homework done.

Thank you if you’re reading this, elementary school teachers. And sorry, Elementary School Teacher, if you are reading this and use the “=” correctly. This was not aimed at you, but at all the rest who don’t.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “dear elementary school teachers,

  1. Also, Elementary School Teacher, please correct students when they say “I plussed three and four together to make seven,” or “I timesed five and two to get ten.”

    You tell them not to say “ain’t” or “funner”; please extend that courtesy to mathematical terms.

  2. institutrice

    The code is messed up in the part that explains why 4/8 does not equal 1/2. They are equivalent fractions, so why are they not equal?

  3. Hi, (French) elementary school teacher! 4/8 does indeed equal 1/2. However, the blockquote is written 4 4/8 is equal to 1/2, which is simply not true. I see many of your colleagues (indeed, my own elementary school teachers) writing 4 4/8=1/2, which is what I’m objecting to. Unfortunately, when the correct answer is 4 1/2, 1/2 is just a wrong answer. When you write a “=” that is exactly what it should mean.

    P.S. Thanks for pointing out the code errors. In Firefox there is no discernable extra fluff, but when I opened this page in Internet Explorer I saw what you saw (maybe, I don’t know what browser you use). Fixed!

  4. Deetz

    Dude. I so agree. Especially with regard to grading worksheets and whatnot. Breaking up the work into legitimate equalities make it easier to check your own work, not to mention that it makes grading easier on educators. Dude. Fer Serious. Oh, and I totally second what O’Brien said. Bothers me to no end. Really? Did you ‘plus’ it? Wow.

  5. Valjean

    what about this? ==>

    or this? @=>===

  6. institutrice

    Okay, thanks for clarifying. And yes, I use IE. 😉

    I make kids rewrite the whole mixed number (4 4/8 = 4 1/2). I also don’t let them say “and” unless there’s a decimal point in a number. They’ve been getting better about that the past few years, so I guess the grades before me are finally insisting on it.

    My biggest pet peeve may be primary teachers telling kids a rhombus is a diamond. That is so hard to break them on when they get to fifth grade. I tell them, ” ‘Diamond’ is not a mathematical term! It’s a jewel you wear on your finger!” They don’t see the big deal. I saw a first grade teacher laminating vocabulary words and I so badly wanted to yell at her for using the word ‘diamond’. I didn’t know how to say it nicely so I didn’t say anything at all. 😉

  7. Dear institutrice,

    I wish there were more teachers like you. 😀 There are plenty, of course, but we can always wish for the numbers to be even higher!

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