Oh hey there, email!

This happened today!

I saw the email alert come up in the middle of class and gasped when I read the words “We are pleased…” I told my kids that I got invited to the AP Calculus reading this summer. They looked at me like I had grown an extra head. It’s all good.

I did get to tell a few of my close teacher friends after school, most of whom do not teach calc, and their genuine joy for me reminded me what a good community I have found.

You know you have good friends when they rejoice in an AP Reading with you.

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Hugs

Today was the first day since we’ve been back that I felt like I was in my flow and things were going smoothly. My loud freshmen boys were zero percent crazy today. I didn’t have to get on to them once. Not once! This is also a good spot to insert praise for my middle school colleague because we are breezing through some units that I usually get bogged down in.

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Tonight at our basketball game the opposing team was 20 minutes late to the game. We get to games 30 minutes early so by the start time I was bored out of my mind. I decided to go shoot around with the boys. Most people think I’m too girly for sports but I did play basketball for 5 years so it was cute when they thought they needed to teach me how to shoot. Another student took pictures of me out there and sent them to me later, telling me they would be in the yearbook. lol

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My fifth hour class is zapping my positive energy and my plan is seventh hour so my sixth hour kind of sees me at my low energy point of the day. Today a student asked me after school if I was okay because I had seemed quiet the past few days.

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Also if anyone is reading this, this is a reminder that being a girl in high school is really hard. I think this is my all time high of conversations and hallway hugs with crying girls. Never underestimate the power of a hug.

Fight

One of the downfalls of teaching Intermediate for me is that it can feel like a semester class due to fact that there is so much movement between semesters that you can end up with an entirely different roster come January. We had such a good thing going! I think every year around this time.

I try my best to remind myself that the kids who transition to our class may be the kids who need us most. But that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have that relationship yet…

One of our new kids has been a challenge for me. He doesn’t disrupt others, but he already has poor attendance and doesn’t work unless I’m babysitting him. Totally capable, but requires supervision if any work is to get done. I chatted with him today and said that this babysitting gig of mine just isn’t feasible, so tomorrow needs to be different on his end or the next day it’ll be different on my end.

He left and I felt like nothing I said sunk in.

An hour later, during lunch, his science teacher walked in.

“Can I talk to you about a student?” he asked.

He asked me if I had the aforementioned student. I explained I’ve only seen him twice, but yes. The science teacher went on to give me some more background and explained that this behavior is new.

My heart broke.

How many times do I have to remind myself? Everyone. Has. A. Story.

If my job boils down to one thing it’s to figure out those stories.

My one good thing is that this kid has a science teacher who is in his corner and that the teacher cared so much about the kid that he went and sought out more of his teachers.

This kid’s story isn’t done yet. Because he’s at Union. And we will fight for him–even if he doesn’t want to fight for himself. If we have to care more than he does, we will do that.

We will never stop fighting for restoration. Never.

What’s One Thing We Can’t Do?

We ended the semester working on our semester reflection papers and started this semester working on a Mathematician Project powerpoint. I’ve noticed that some of my rowdiest boys have pulled a chair up next to my desk to work on their chrome book. For some reason…it works. I’m not even really helping much, answering a question here and there, but somehow it keeps them focused and calm. I’m here for it.

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It’s only day 3 of the semester and I’ve already forcibly made myself not talk, not jump in, not move on to give students time. If I’m walking around watching them work and everyone is half done, why does my brain default to showing the answers or rushing them? Then I am perpetuating the idea that fast math is the best math. So I am proud of myself for having these discussions in my mind….which in itself is giving them more time.

But also our first day back, it’s like I literally had a block when it came to planning. I decided to give extra time for those who hadn’t finished their projects and if they were already done then could start researching their own non white dude mathematician for the next nine weeks. I asked a lot of questions about their Christmas and gave way may down time than I ever feel comfortable doing. Then I read this:

Look at God, thinking he is God and knowing what is best!

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I asked three good questions today in our classifying triangles Geometry lesson. They were using the distance formula to find leg lengths and and after two I asked why we always have to find the third leg. Then we moved on to solving equations of equilateral and isosceles triangle and I asked them what if I wanted the perimeter. One triangle had a leg length of 49, one with an expression in terms of x, and one with an expression in terms of y. I asked,”What’s one thing we can’t do; one equation we can’t do?”

I think they sorta like math…

I decided at the beginning of this year that my calc kids would get a new seating chart every quarter. O just thought it’d be advantageous for them to sit with new people and sit in various places around the room. I don’t know. Jury’s still out as to whether or not it’s been effective. However, today when I told my kids to discuss the reading (Joy of x) with their partner…the kids actually “turned and talked.” That did not happen three days after being given their new seating chart last quarter.

When they talk about mathematics, I get quite giddy.

So I’m pretty pleased with how that went.

*****

A girl asked me if we were going to be doing Khan Academy for this unit of calc. “Yes–I know you love it so,” I said sarcastically, as she had told me last semester she was not a fan (not a rude way, but in a this-is-frustrating-me type of way).

“Actually, I’ve grown to like it.”

Don’t worry: I remained as calm as humanly possible.

Offer

I don’t know if I just slept wrong, or not enough, or if I’m coming down with something, but I was in a lot of pain today and it was not enjoyable.

We got a new student in Intermediate yesterday but she came in late so she missed the lecture on domain and range. Then she was late again today so she missed the recap of domain and range also. Not her fault. It’s a new, big building. But with how much pain I was in, I was in one of those “not my fault either” moods.

As I willed myself to attempt to explain domain and range yet again, the kid sitting next to her asked me if I wanted him to explain the concept to her.

I could have cried.

He worked at explaining a topic that was new to him, too, befriending a young lady that is brand new to our district. What an angel.

Afterwards, he whispered to me, “I never knew teaching could be so hard!”

I laughed a good while at that one.

Oh, these kids of mine. To share space with them is one of life’s greatest gifts and adventures.

Semester Two

Today was our first day back! I was emotional last night, thinking about leaving little Jonas. I made the decision to go back to work nearly two years ago when he was eight weeks old, and since then I’ve never once questioned if I made the right decision for myself and my family. It’s a no-brainer: I’m happiest when I get to be a wife, a mom, and a teacher.

Even so, coming back from breaks has taken on a whole new level of anxiety and even sadness. I know that once we get to our next long break, he’ll be older; he’ll have learned things without me; he’ll be more independent.

All those things are good things.

But they also remind me that his time in our home is limited.

My one good thing is that I get to do what I love to do for a living. And I got to go back to a fun-loving, eager, generous group of students today. I love being their teacher. I love watching them welcome new students and explain how math class works. I love seeing their excitement as they visit with their friends after a two-week break. And I love hearing the words, “Hi, Mrs. Peterson!”

I love that title.

I love it almost as much as Momma.

Here’s to a second semester filled with lots of learning and lots of joy. A semester where we learn to love bigger and open our arms wider. A semester where patience and tolerance prevail–where we celebrate our similarities and our differences.

Here’s to a semester where we choose to listen more. Where we practice humility: knowing that “humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself; it means thinking of yourself less.”[1] Where we believe with our whole hearts that we belong to each other and that there is no such thing as someone else’s kid.

Where we bring earth a little closer to Heaven…

Here’s to the best second semester we’ve ever had.

[1] My quote for 2018. Thank you, C.S. Lewis.