The small things 

After the lecture in first hour today, I was walking around and checking on kids. When I finally made it to one side of the classroom, I realized all a student had done was write the first problem down. And it had been nine minutes since I had finished the lecture. 

“It’s been nine minutes and all you have down is the given function…?!?” I asked incredulously. I then sighed and walked away. (Cute and over dramatic is how I classroom manage my calc kids; it works for us.)

But, really. Nine minutes of no work? Not ok. I was honestly very disappointed. This is why I often tell my kids, “I’m not taking any questions until I make a few laps to make sure everyone is on-task.” For whatever reason, I didn’t do that this morning. Probably someone asked a good question or something. 

Anyway…I was not happy about this lack of effort. During plan, I schemed ways to help them stay on track. 

When it was time for my other two calculus classes to get to work today, I told them the sad tale of the nine-minute starter. I said, “Don’t be that person. Don’t break my heart like that.”

And you know what? They didn’t break my heart. They worked so beautifully and stayed on task. 

I am still scheming ways to help them stay on task and will probably let them vote on a method tomorrow. But, it’s nice to know that I can say, “This behavior disappoints me,” and most of the students respond to that. And it’s not even October yet. 

It’s the small things. 


A girl asked me today, “If you could have any other job in the world, would you leave teaching, Mrs. Peterson?”


“Like, what if–bam!–you could just be like a nurse or something or anything?”

“No, this is what I love.”

“You love it even when students are annoying and mean?”

I told her that (while I don’t enjoy seeing that kind of behavior) I’ve learned everyone has a story and that they’re probably acting that way because of some kind of hurt. 

I don’t know if she was really listening. But any chance to humanize both teachers and students to other students is a chance I feel very obligated to take. Maybe someone was listening…


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