**Girl, Grade 12**

I used to be good at math in elementary school when we were using numbers all the time and solving problems. Then, when I got to middle school everything changed! We started using variables, which I did not get why not just use numbers! And our assignments were boring because we had to do the same problem like twenty times in a row to “practice”. It seemed like every year in middle school I understood less and less because we were using numbers less and variables more. By the time I got to Algebra I didn’t even care about trying to understand math anymore and I don’t think my teacher cared either. I remember sitting in the front of the class with my friends, we were all the black girls in class, and he just let us talk the entire time, and he never said anything to us. I still always did my homework and tried my best on tests because I wanted to do well in school but I never felt like I understood anything or when I did it was after the test and it didn’t matter anymore. When I had to repeat Algebra I thought I still wouldn’t understand anything, but I was wrong. I learned I actually new a lot! And I think my teacher could tell I knew more than I thought I did too because she used to have me explain when my peers had questions. This year in Algebra 2 I keep getting in trouble for talking to my neighbors too much but I don’t care about that anymore. I learned when I repeated Algebra that what helps me understand and kind of like math is when I get to talk to people about the problems not just practice 100 of the same kind of equation for an hour.