Finals and posters

Two of my five classes took their final today. They are doing great with the testing so far and I’m doing great with the grading so far, so I’m feeling pretty good about life. T-minus one day until I get two weeks with my boys!

*****

I got to speak to the math and science majors at my alma mater a couple months ago. Today one of my professors wrote and said that he asked his students to recall the best and worst moments of the semester. (This is where I got nervous.) He said the students sited the talk as one of the highlights.

Bullet dodged. 😅

*****

I got an email today saying that Ahha Tulsa, our local art museum, wants to feature my protest sign and part of my letter to my kids regarding the walkout for an exhibit they’re doing in February called The Art of Protest.

I’m pretty excited!

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Gifts

I don’t know how many past students’ necks I got to hug today but it seemed like they just came in wave after wave and it was so good to see them and hear all about their lives.

I’m so proud of each of them and so thankful that they still think to come and see their old calculus teacher.

*****

I made a little literacy activity for my calculus kids as they finished their final review. I kept telling them “You have to know how to start each problem; you have be able to decipher what the question is asking of you.”

I then realized I should probably show them what I meant by that.

So I made a list of how to start each problem and then had the kids work in pairs to match each statement to one of their review problems:

Super easy on my part. Kids did all the work. Hopefully, they’ll go home and do it again. And, I hope they’re getting more and more tools to put in their arsenal of study techniques.

*****

Soon after I arrived in my classroom this morning, a student came in.

“I have a gift for you!”

Oh my heart. I cried. It’s absolute perfection. The Polaroids are snapshots of some of my kids. She must have spent hours on this; it looks like something you would get from an Etsy store.

Sometimes I think, “I don’t have any more to give. I’m totally empty.”

And then sometimes I think, “I can’t possibly accept all the good these children give to me.”

It’s this fascinating juggling game–teaching is. I pour but then I receive. I give but then I take.

But then: isn’t that how this life was always meant to be? That we each take responsibility for one another’s rights, one another’s joy.

I think so.

We belong to each other.

To be continued

I was talking to a student who has done well all semester but has really been in rockstar mode the last month or so. I asked her what changed and she said things just started clicking.

Not quite buying it, I pushed a little more.

She said she felt like she was getting a lot done in class and then started finishing assignments at home as soon as possible. She talked about how it felt good to have every single problem done and how finishing one assignment made her want to learn the next day’s topic well so that she could have that same feeling again the next day.

In other words, success begets success.

We talked about homework philosophy and my view as a teacher versus her view as a student, which solidified what I believe and practice (give a little homework every night but give a reasonable time frame to finish–aka not the next day).

It was–at most–a five minute conversion. But I gleaned a lot.

Now the pressing question: how do I get all kids to feel that success earlier? Especially when you have thirty-seven kids in a class at thirty-seven different levels?

I’m not sure. But it got the wheels turning. Maybe the first two or so units need to be more self-paced? So I can focus on getting everyone at the same (or, you know, closer to the same) page by October and then moving forward. As opposed to crossing my fingers and hoping we all get there by May.

I’m not sure. It’s something I will spend this break and summer thinking about.

I’m thankful for conversations that both encourage my current work and also make me want to do better and be better for my kids.

I want them all to experience the kind of success and ownership that this young lady has.

To be continued…

Quote + cotton candy

One of calc kids came in and said she was reading a book the night before and a quote made her think of me. I was so taken aback I made her send me a picture of it so I could look back on it when I need to:

Is that not beautiful?

*****

My third hour won the spirit week challenge a couple weeks ago and voted on a cotton candy party, which we partook in today.

They had a blast as our Director of Student Activities served them until they were completely sugared out.

I figured we wouldn’t get much done after all that fun, so precalc got storytime with Mrs. P today and we added more fish to our Only One You ocean.

Pretty great day.

Last tests

Both precalc and calc tested today so I was not exactly looking forward to my day of sitting and grading.

But these kids knocked the tests out of the park. I’m so proud of them and how far they’ve come. They’re really learning how they learn, and it’s so exciting to watch their confidence grow.

Finals, here we come!

Childlike

One of my calc kids asked if Spanish factorials looked like this:

¡4!

I don’t know why that hit me as so funny in the moment, but tbh I’m still laughing about it, so kudos to that student.

*****

We played a Jeopardy review in precalc. My fourth hour asked for the Jeopardy theme song, which I was more than happy to look for. During my search, I found a remix version and thought that might be funny. I started playing it, but it was just your regular old theme song. I let it keep playing in the background, somewhat oblivious to the simple tune.

And then the remix part of the remix started and I about jumped out of my seat.

I love that you never know what your day is going to be like in this job–even hour by hour. I love that my kids always give me reasons to laugh. I love that they look for ways to make life sillier. I know I miss that a lot as an adult: I take things too seriously and often forget that being playful and childlike is one of the keys to happiness.

Another upside about being more childlike: you’re constantly impressed with others instead of trying to impress them.

I see this with my almost-three-year-old all the time.

“Mommy. Sing me a song about fire trucks and ambulances and choo choo trains!”

“Ok! Fire truck, and ambulance, and choo choo train…

“Wow!!! That’s a great song, Mommy! Thank you!”

When did we lose that? When did stop being so amazed by each other?

I don’t know.

But I do know I want to be more childlike: joyful in what I do and amazed by those around me.

CSI: Conics

My precalc kids solved a CSI investigation today as they reviewed conic sections, each scene revealing a new clue as long as the kids read carefully and worked correctly. At the end, their clues led them to the identity of the correct suspect.

I had a lot of fun watching them try to “beat the clock” (the end of the hour). A few didn’t quite finish in time but they wanted to solve the mystery so they stayed over lunch to figure it out.

You know a lesson is good when kids don’t want to leave and when they do exit, you hear, “That was fun!”