My kids

We took twenty-seven kids to the University of Oklahoma today for their Math Day. It’s always a good day. OU does such a good job presenting the kids with fun and interesting mathematics. Our kids took second in both geometry and algebra.

In the chaos of getting ready for a sub and having everything ready for when I get back tomorrow, I totally forgot to contact past students who are now at OU. So on our way to campus, I posted a screenshot from OU Math Day’s website to Instagram, in a last-minute effort to see some of my favorite people during our lunch break.

They didn’t disappoint. I got hugs and stories and updates. They interrupted their busy day to see this little high school teacher.

These were my kids before I ever had a kid of my own. They’ve become my friends. And I am so very grateful for each of them and for what they have offered and will offer to the world.

I’ve said for a long time that the worst part of this job is saying goodbye to kids who have stolen your heart.

But one is the best parts is keeping in touch with them and watching them take the world by storm.

My heart is so very full.


Coffee and cards

At our faculty meeting this morning, we were served coffee and muffins. After a couple quick announcements, we were given the rest of the time to write three thank you cards: one to a support staff member, one to a peer, and one to a student.

Anyone who knows anything about me will know that I loved this faculty meeting with all my heart. Coffee and thank you notes? My love languages.


My calc kids got more practice today matching the graphs of f and f’. They did so well. I heard a lot of students use words like fun and easy.

*Heel click*


A former student who is studying to be a high school math teacher taught a geometry lesson today (all day) in her college town. I anxiously awaited her text to let me know how it went.

She’s humble, but it was clear by the excitement in her texts that she killed it.

To top it off, one of her exit tickets was for the kids to write one good thing.

And that’s my one good thing. ❤

Homework helps

Today was quiz day in calculus. I’ve gone back to making quizzes mostly formative for the kiddos. We take them cold (aka we don’t do a review day or anything before) and then grade and then they can correct for full credit back. Corrections are always due two school days after the quiz. All this to say, it’s not unusual for the kids to do pretty horribly. And that’s fine. That’s sort of the point: for them to figure out their strengths and weaknesses before the test. It’s often a good wake-up call.

I’ve been staying in my room during lunch once a week so that a handful of kids can have dedicated calculus time. One of these kids in particular has really stepped up his game. He’s gone from doing basically no homework (which was a habit he also practiced last year, by his admission) to finishing every problem on every assignment.

The kid brought up his quiz to ask about a correction he was working on today. I glanced at his paper.

“Is that the only question you missed??”


“That is amazing!”

“Yeah. Turns out doing your homework really helps.”

“Do you think you could say that to the class? Maybe into a microphone?”

“Nah, I’m good.”

Hehehehe! Seriously though! What a turnaround!


I love collecting senior pictures from my seniors every year. Inevitably, my juniors often say they’ll bring me one the following year. They rarely do.

Today, one of my kids from last year strode in just before first hour, clearly hiding something behind his back.

“I have something for you!”


Out came a framed senior portrait of the student in some faux-professional pose.

I about peed my pants.

It was so good.

Good enough for me to keep it on my desk, which solicited comments and questions all day. I jokingly told one girl it was a picture of my son. She looked at it skeptically. “No…” *long, contemplative pause* “That kid lives in my neighborhood.”

Oh lordy. It may have been a “had to be there” moment. But I’m telling you–so good.


I was telling one of my Intermediate hours that we could do a little Thanksgiving party the last day before break.

One of my kids jumped out of his seat and headed towards to whiteboard. “Ok! Just going to make a little list of any allergies people may have!”

“Ok. Not right this moment, Bud. This is over a week away. We have a little time to figure out allergies.”

“But that’s just the thing! It takes me a few tries to get a cake just right!”

Any time I think I have teenage boys pegged…think again.

How lucky I am to have a job that makes me laugh so much and so hard. Love these kids of mine.


Today was Week 2 of Friyay (Friday games during lunch)! I played Jenga four times with four teenage boys and was the only one who didn’t cause the tower to fall *takes a bow.* It was all just silly. We laughed and teased and laughed some more. We didn’t talk math. We didn’t share life stories. We just were. 

And it was the best part of my day. 


My calc lesson was a snooze ball today. I could feel myself just losing the kids. Mean Value Theorem. Gotta figure out how to spice that one up. 

As I was giving this god-awful lesson for the third time today, in walked a kid from first hour. “Mrs. Peterson. I have a present for you.” He brought a t-shirt in for me, which I didn’t think was all that odd because a principal had recently asked those of us on a committee what our t-shirt size was. But instead of just giving me the shirt, he gave the sweetest little speech that totally melted my heart. 

Despite the world’s most boring lesson on MVT today…

You can watch the video here

And, yes, I am always that awkward when I know I’m being taped. 

One new thing

We had a good day in calculus today. I think my kids made a lot of important connections and that was exciting to watch. They did a card sort I made on Desmos with quite a bit of success and then we talked about inflection points IRL which was really fun. It can be hard to understand how math is applicable to the real world because the real world doesn’t typically follow a three-step strategy. But applying what we’re learning is really the whole point of this, and also gives a lot of validation to what we’re doing (I think). So that’s pretty fabulous. 


Instead of writing one good thing today, I had my calc kids write one new thing (one thing about them I didn’t already know). Most were trivial. Some were hysterical. One said, “I used to hate math…now I kind of love it.” And a few were heartbreaking. 

But most reminded me—once again—that we’re all so much alike. We’re all people. We all belong to each other. And we all need each other to watch out for us.