Real mathematicians 

I’ve been excited for today for a while because I got to teach a concept in calc that I haven’t taught in AP before. The AP Calc Exam is going through minor revisions this year. As I was studying the materials that College Board released last summer, I decided I really needed to spend a little more time on the formal definition of a definite integral. 

I worked hard on the kids’ assignment. (Sidebar: I’m not sure how textbook publishers get away with adding four extra pages per chapter and then slapping “AP Edition” on the cover. That’s false advertising. I find more and more that these textbooks just don’t live up to my expectations. So, if you’ve found one you like for AP Calc, please do share.)

I also worked pretty hard on the lecture. 

I seriously thought going into it, “This will be a piece of cake for them! I can spend lots of time on warm ups and homework questions today and all will be well.”

Wrong. 

I started the lecture in first hour, and something just did not feel quite right. They were quieter than normal. There was tension and anxiety. I could feel it. And those are two things I find counterproductive to learning. 

So I slowed down. I worked more problems with them. (And I did not do a bunch of warm ups in my later classes…so sorry, first hour.)

But the kids did catch on after they got over their initial shock of all the letters and symbols. (In their defense, this was the first slide–filled in–for today. I laughed out loud when I went to save my notes. Poor guys. Of course they were freaking out.)


But, at the end of each hour, I had kids tell me, “At first I thought this was going to be hard, but I get it now.” Music to my little ears. 

My all-time favorite commentary of the day though was, “I like this stuff. I feel like we’re real mathematicians now. Got the whole alphabet going on here…”

I love it when they start to see themselves as mathematicians. That kind of confidence can open up so many doors for them. 

I’ll say it again: it’s way more than mathematics that we teach…

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