Sixth hour

Today was hard. Small things (like being late to a meeting due to a traffic light outage), medium things (like losing my plan for the fifth time this semester due to an uncovered teacher absence) and big things (like finding out one of my kids made a really bad choice and will no longer be able to attend school for a year) seemed to keep coming at me. 

By lunch, I just wanted to go home, go to sleep, and wake up to a new day. 


By some miracle of Heaven, my last class of the day–sixth hour Intermediate Algebra–was my best and and most peaceful class. They sat quietly and worked all hour. No one felt the need to wander around the room. No one got on anyone’s nerves. Everyone was just…calm. To top it off, one of my kids whom I hadn’t seen in weeks, finally returned and worked to begin to get caught up. 
It was exactly the kind of end to the day that I needed. I’m not sure I could have handled their usual…flair. I just didn’t have it in me. 

And, as it turns out, I didn’t have to today. 

God bless those souls. 

Too good 

A couple months ago, my best English teacher friend told me about how one of our local TV stations recognizes a “Student of the Week” every week. She had proof-read a rec letter for me earlier for a student we share and suggested we both nominate this student for the award. 

Today I got an email saying that our student was chosen. I emailed Whitney right away and we delivered the news together. Our student held in tears as she thanked us and told us we were “too good to her.”

That’s when I had to hold in the tears. 

Too good to her?

Was she kidding?

She is the one who has enriched our lives. There’s no such thing as being too good to some of these kids. So many of them need all the goodness we can give and more. 

While this student has had so much bad in her life, she is a shining light of all things Good. 

There’s no way we’re too good to her. 

But we’re thankful that someone so good is getting a small sliver goodness tomorrow night at 5PM and 9PM on Channel 6 News. 😊


My calc kids said they’d like to make a tshirt this year. I emailed our Activities Director to see how to go about doing that and then told the kids they could submit designs for extra credit. 

Today during plan, I told myself I had to figure out what to do for the final design. I was somewhat stressed about it. There were a lot of great ideas submitted, but nothing was fully finished, in my opinion. I didn’t want to spend too much time on it–as this is their design–but I also wanted it to look good. 

One of my students who spends every plan with me came in and said, “Are those the designs?!”

“Yeah…this is kind of what I’m thinking. May I run it by you?”

Within thirty minutes we had a beautiful, finished product, and there’s no way I could have done it without this lovely girl. 

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore, but when my kids help carry my load, I am so grateful and so touched. So often they do it without even realizing. It’s exactly that kind of helpfulness that this world desperately needs…

Review Quiz, Take 1

Today my calc kids took the first of four review quizzes leading up their mock exam. Two very good things about this:

  1. In the past, I’ve stayed up late the four Thursday nights before each of these quizzes because the kids submit the MC questions that I use on the quizzes (and I write the FRQ). It would take me quite a while to figure out which problems I wanted to use and then type them all up. So. Much. Work. This year I wisened up in two regards: first, the questions were due on Thursday before my planning period (instead of at the end of the day); second, I just took pictures of the problems I chose (DocScan for the win) instead of typing them all up. I had two versions made by the end of my planning period (as opposed to one version made by then end of the night). Sure, the quizzes didn’t look as pretty, but who cares?! DONE BY THE END OF PLAN?! I didn’t take any work home! 💃🏻
  2. The kids’ average was an 85%. For this type of quiz (and for how shaky they seemed at the beginning of the week), that’s a score I’m super proud of. I’m starting to breathe again. They just might pass the AP Exam after all.

No power

I’ve been trying to instill in my calculus babies that if they don’t know how to work a problem at first glance, skip it and come back to it if there’s time. I know these kids, and I know that many of them get flustered easily and let a small hiccup overtake them, and they lose their cool. 

I’ve been telling them: “Do NOT let one little problem have power over you. If you feel yourself getting anxious, you move on. You may even be pleasantly surprised that you do, indeed, know how to work the problem once you give yourself some distance from it.”

Today, a group of boys was working a particularly challenging part of an FRQ. 

One of them looked at me, then pushed his face all the way to his desk and spoke to his paper, “You will NOT have power over me!”

Oh lordy. 

You don’t get this kind of humor unless you get to work with kids all day. 

In all fairness, he was somewhat mocking me. 

But–I think I’m starting to get my point across. 😜

When perfection keeps you haunted 

I dangerously perused Pinterest, Twitter, and Teachers Pay Teachers (seriously, people, put your stuff out for free like the rest of us do) during spring break. I found so much good material for calculus review that I started to wonder if I needed to revamp my entire review unit (even though I just revamped it two years ago…and it was a crap ton of work). 

I decided that I would at least keep my first four weeks the same, updating problems, but saving the format (two days of FRQ practice on a certain topic, two days of MC practice on a certain topic, quiz on Friday over both topics, which the kids help write). 

Still, I never think I’m doing enough. 

Perfectionism, man. 

I know it’s part of what makes me good at what I do, but it can also be a plague, especially when comparison plays a role. 

Today was an FRQ day. I gave the kids a past FRQ; they took it cold (as if it were an actual exam); and then I had them grade their own based on the scoring guideline. Once they felt confident with the rubric, they were shown student samples that they were asked to grade and then I revealed the national average for that problem. We then repeated the process with one more FRQ. 

My fifth hour impressed me the most. They asked such fabulous questions in terms of how points were distributed. It was so clear they were trying to really understand how to improve their scores. 

When we finished, they said, “Mrs. P, this was so helpful!”

I could have cried.

Just when you wonder if you’re doing enough–they always reassure you: you are enough. As is. 

“Why so scared that you’ll mess it up? When perfection keeps you haunted

All we need is your best my love, that’s all anyone ever wanted

Love is how we do, let no judgment overrule it
Love I look to you, and I sing”

-Sara Bareilles


The juniors took the ACT today so us lucky senior teachers got an extra long plan, and we all got a long lunch. 

I used the time to get caught up and prepare for next week (and it’s only Tuesday, guys!). Oh heavens–it feels so good not to have any make up work to grade. It feels so good to be ahead and not behind. It feels so good to have had a bit of calm for a couple hours. Just me and Sara Bareilles.

We need a Sabbath every now and then. (I believe Someone recommended once a week.) Today was that for me. And I am ever grateful.