Forward 

Today was another relaxed day. I teach mostly seniors, and all but two of them were gone today. Just me and my juniors! The two girls in first hour brought me coffee and we just sat and talked. (I must be more intentional about creating moments like this next year. Still haven’t heard any ideas from y’all.) And in fifth hour we played Jenga and Ghost Blitz and laughed and didn’t worry about calculus for a single moment. It was glorious. 

People who teach high school know the typical look you get when you tell someone what you do for a living: it’s a look of horror and amazement and disgust and appreciation. But we always something like, “I genuinely love teenagers,” right? And we’re not lying (most days). 

But what I genuinely love about students this age are things like their humor and their stories and their vulnerability. And you don’t get to see a lot of that if you just do calculus all day long. 

What I’m saying is–the things I love most about my kids are not the things I intentionally draw out of them a lot of the time. 

And that’s really not ok. 

It needs to change. 

I need to take time to just relax with my kids every now and then. Maybe I can’t get to all 140 of them.  But I can do better than what I’m doing now. 

Hold me accountable. Next year’s going to be even better. 💃🏻

A beautiful day

Today was so lovely. My calc classes ranged from 1-12 people (graduation rehearsal), so I was able to get caught up on all the makeup work kids have turned in recently. It was heavenly. I should have taken a picture of the five empty trays. Lord knows they won’t be empty tomorrow!

I had two kids in fifth hour, and since I was caught up on grading, I asked if they would play a game with me. We played Qwirkle, and I won. Again, such a good day. 😉

It’s moments like these that remind me of the parts of private education that I loved as a child: small classes, knowing my teachers and their families, knowing my classmates and their families. 

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love public education. But, we have to admit that there are some things we really miss out on because of our massive size. And that’s ok: as long as we work to bring the closeness and intimacy to our classrooms and our hallways. We can’t grow unless we first recognize where we need to improve. And for me, I need to work harder at bringing that smallness to my clasroom next year. 

Ideas welcome. 

Exam Day

We are done!!!

The AP Exam is over, and I can attempt to get some rest without the aid of melatonin from now until the week before school starts next year. 

My kids were not happy coming out of their FRQs, which did break my heart. However, a quick Twitter search for #apcalc convinced me that basically the whole nation felt the same way, so–there’s that. 

But I hope they don’t let those six questions cloud the fact that they worked and pushed  and grew and accomplished. 

They learned to look at failure as opportunity; not as a label. 

They learned that they may not always have the answer, but if they lean on each other, someone in the room can help. 

They learned how to question, how to reason, how to justify. 

They learned how to use mathematics to describe rates of change and accumulation. 

They learned the value of long-term planning and studying. 

And hopefully they learned that a 5’1″  curly head will always believe in them, respect them, and hope the best for them. 

I’m so very, very proud of my Redskins and all that they’ve learned this year. 

Oh, they places they’ll go…

Tomorrow 

Tomorrow is the day!

Goodie bags have been prepped, the last study session has been held, water bottles and granola bars are ready for distribution. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been this calm the night before the AP Exam. 

It’s up to the kids now. It’s up to them to show us all that they’ve learned and accomplished this year. I’m confident in them. 

Here’s to a full night’s rest for all my AP Calc teacher friends. 

No matter what, these kids learned a lot this year. And to witness that and be a part of that is the true prize. 

Burritos

Today was a hard day physically. I think my body finally said, “Enough,” and gave out a bit. I stooped to a new low and asked students to leave my room during plan; I turned off the lights; locked my door; made a bed of blankets on the ground in a corner where I felt any passersby would not see me; and attempted to take a nap with my beloved heating pad. I didn’t get any actual sleep, but the quiet rest was still nice. 

When I got to school today, I was telling my co-teacher that I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. Brett was unhappy with me for coming to work. I rushed out the door, saying it was too late to get a sub anyway. Plus–AP Exam on Tuesday. I can’t leave my babies now!

Anyway, as I was talking with my co-teacher, a student came in to bring me breakfast she had bought for me. What! It could not have come on a better day. Let me tell you, a McDonald’s breakfast burrito has never tasted so good. 

I’m still tired and sick. I have a sub for tomorrow so I may or may not go to school. But these kids are my life. Even though I work in a state that underfunds and undervalues my profession, I still feel like my kids and I get each other. They bring me breakfast burritos for crying out loud. 

They are not my job. They are my joy.  

Fighters 

We are so close to the end. Three more school days until the AP Exam. Then my kids graduate the next day. 

We are all tired and sick. We’re weary and stressed. But we’re fighters. My kids have proved that from the beginning. 

I think about how many of them have had lunch with me in my classroom instead of with their friends off campus the last three weeks, and I’m reminded–we’re fighters. I think about the kid who comes early in the mornings because he has one question–one–he wants to clarify, and I’m reminded–we’re fighters. I think about the girl who had an AP Test in the morning, soccer playoffs in the evening, and still managed to get her make up calculus work done from the day she missed because of testing, and I’m reminded–we’re fighters. I think about how some of these kids went from being frustrated with mathematics to becoming fluent in calculus, and I’m reminded–we’re fighters. 

And these kids don’t just fight, they fight together. They show up for each other. They help each other. They keep each other accountable. 

They’re my heros. 

And no matter how it plays out in three school days, I am so very honored to be a part of these kids’ lives and to witness how they’ve grown and how they’ve faught. 

Ownership 

I gave my kids an old secure MC portion of an AP Exam and posted the answers around the room. I told them to work five problems (that they felt confident on) and then check those problems with my key; repeat. 

When I called time for my first hour, some kids asked if they could check the answers they had left. 

Melt my heart. Why, yes, feel free to do more math. 

During our lunch study session, some students asked if we could go over the exam they had taken earlier in the day instead of the problems I sent the day before. The rest of their peers were in agreement so I told them all to pick one problem and one back up problem to be ready to ask me. We got through every person except two. The students asked if we could do this again tomorrow. 

Again: yes, children, we can do as much math as you’d like. 

It’s the best when they take ownership of their own learning.

*****

I got such a sweet card from a student today for teacher appreciation. It was the kind of card that makes you think “I hope I can raise a kid that’s as kind and encouraging as this young man.” My favorite line was: “I love how you walk around the room every day to check on all your students.” And then in his PS he said, “Did you notice my use of ‘every day’?” (Because I told them how to tell the difference between every day and everyday the other day. 😉 ) Oh lordy, I laughed out loud. 

Kids, man. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to tell you that they can sure push our buttons. But they are also life-givers in a way I don’t see in as many adults…and–in that regard–I want to be more like them when I grow up.