Jenga

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. 

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Tshirt

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. 

Laughter

I’ve been struggling these last couple of weeks with one class in particular; their behavior has kind of deteriorated, and I’m not really sure what’s going on. I just know that I’m super frustrated and really needed to have a good class with them today so that I didn’t spend the entire 3 day weekend stewing about it. I decided to try something new that they could be successful with, so I introduced SET as our warm-up activity. We used SET transparency cards on the overhead projector (Does anyone else even still use one of these?) and students took turns sharing their set ideas. They caught on pretty quickly, and soon nearly all of the hands were up. Everyone who wanted to participate had a chance at least once. As we were finishing the game, and I told them I would take just one more volunteer, I pretended to do Eeny, meeny, miny, moe but then picked the girl who was right beside me. I’m sure that everyone knew that I was going to pick her from the get go, so I said “I picked her because she was right beside me…. “. Within a few seconds, I looked down to see a student sit on the floor beside me, then another came over to stand there. I started laughing when I realized what they were doing, and then we all started laughing. We needed that.

 

 

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. 

Ackkk

I’ve missed so many days and moments. I always hate when I don’t write but then I still do it. The good news is I’m doing it now!

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I think I accidentally ‘love and logic-ed’ a cheerleader today. The basketball coach came to tell me that she was saying bad things about the team. Embarrassing. At practice today someone joked that she would get kicked off the team and I made a ‘it’s possible’ face. She replied with “Bet you won’t.” Twice. I was mad and that made me super mad. 

I still left it alone because every scenario I imagined ended badly. Tonight she texted me and apologized for being rude. I dealt with the other situation too and I feel much better.

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One of my wild freshman boys told me today he appreciated me and everything I do and how I keep the everything organized for them. Not sure it was sincere but I’ll take it.

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I had the highest factoring Algebra II test scores ever! I fully believe in the effectiveness of my Factoring Friday bell ringers.

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We played Dance Dance Transversal for the first time ever in Geometry yesterday. I felt like it was fun but a hot mess and that they didn’t really learn anything. Today we did it again with our fingers on the desk, took some notes, and then took a quiz. The scores were high so I guess you could call it a success.

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In Algebra II we did a polygraph for the first time on parabolas. One student said we should do this every single day. They were definitely engaged.

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A former student from 5-6 years ago stopped by today to give me her number and ask if we could talk because she missed our conversations. 😍

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I (bravely) started sharing my teach180 posts on Facebook and have been receiving really good feedback. I feel like I just made a small step for my school but a giant leap for teachers everywhere. 💪🏻

Nuance 

My calc kids are starting to match the graphs of f and f’. I like to give two functions, graphed on the same plane and tell them, “One graph is the original function; the other is its derivative. Which is which?”

This typically gets good discussion going, but today was just really good—especially in first hour. 

In years past, after allowing for some discussion I’ve said, “Ok, which is which?”

“The blue graph is the original!” they’ll say. 

“Great! How do you know?”

And someone will give a good explanation and everyone will nod their agreement and then I’ll go on to give five other reasons. 

But you know how sometimes you say one little thing differently and magic happens? That happened today. 

Instead of saying, “How do you?” I said, “Raise your hand if you can give me one reason to prove your stance.”

Hands flew. 

Heart melted. 

I called on kid after kid, each of which could give me different yet correct justifications for choosing the correct graph. 

It’s so exciting when little changes like this make a world of difference. Part of you thinks, Why did it take me this long to come up with this? And then the honest part of you realizes that this job is hard. And that coming up with the little nauances that make magic can take years of experience…but those moments keep pushing us to be better and keep us looking for ways to get more and more out of our kids. 

Go, Dogs! Go!

Jonas’s current request at bedtime is the book Go, Dogs, Go! (Pretty sure he’s sending not-so-subliminal messages that he wants a puppy. It ain’t happening.) The first page shows dozens of dogs racing to who knows where and simply says, “Go, dogs! Go!”

That’s a bit what I felt like today. It was go-go-go all day. By the time the last hour of the day rolled by (which is thankfully my plan), I realized I hadn’t had lunch or a bathroom break all day. I remedied both immediately. 

On Mondays, I’m working with a handful of calc students during lunch. My hope is that an extra forty-five minutes or so of time spent on math will pay off come test day. We’ll see. 

My one good thing is that these Monday lunch sessions have never been a thing before. And I really feel like they’re a thing now because I know my kids better (in general) this year. And that means I’m getting better. 

I noticed today that I put up with a lot less shoddy work this year. In the past, as long as a kid still had a C, I would say, “Oh well, this is sloppy work, but she can live with this lower grade.” This year, not so much. I feel I’m doing a much better job of monitoring them and calling them out when they don’t submit the kind of work I know they’re capable of. 

You can’t be stagnant once you’ve learned others’ stories. 

So yes, I’m going to bed at 9:30 tonight. But I’m going to bed proud of the work that’s happening in Room 2704 and thankful for another day in the profession I love.