We have started exploring motion in calculus, which–to my kids–means WORD PROBLEMS (bum bum BUM). I see them squirming a lot. I see they’re uncomfortable. I see that they’re struggling. But, I also see where they’re headed. I know that, if they’ll do the work, they will be masters at this by the end of year. Honestly, I see growth just by the end of the hour oftentimes. 

One girl told me today, “I’m just having a really hard time with how to word everything.”

I assured her, “Everyone is. I promise. You are not alone.” I also promised her she would get better and better if she would endure the current uncomfortable time period. 

I saw relief flood her face, and I was reminded how important it is to know that others are in the struggle with us. 


There’s a group of girls that I got on to a few weeks ago because it felt every time I walked by, they were discussing things other than math. I had to redirect them more often than I have to redirect my 8-month-old from the fireplace. 

I finally said something like, “Girls. I honestly don’t know that this arrangement is going to work for you. You know I love all of you, but this is just not a good scenario right now.”

I left it at that. I decided I would just keep a close eye on their grades. 

Their grades have been fine and they’ve actually stayed on task more since that day. 

Today one of the girls was in my room during plan and told me, “I’ve been working really hard to stay on task and I’ve been doing a lot better.”

It’s true. And it made my heart so happy to know that the progress had been intentional. 


I usually have a couple girls work on calculus in my room during plan. One of them I had last year but is in BC this year. The other one is with me in AB. 

The student in BC asked the AB student for help. At first the AB student said she couldn’t help as she wasn’t in BC. Her friend insisted that she could help. “Why is this function not continuous?”

My student looked at the graph for all of two seconds and nonchalantly remarked, “The limit and function value both exist but they’re not equal, so the function isn’t continuous. That’s what creates the hole.”


She looked at me, I think half-shocked at her own knowledge. 

And that’s the thing I love most about teaching calculus: the confidence that these students gain (if they do the work) is the best thing to watch grow. 


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