When they come back to visit

Yesterday was the last day of workshop week. I didn’t get as much done as I thought. I am in charge of the lockers for the school and I spent some time fixing a few combinations that hadn’t moved ahead. But the most interesting part of the day came when a former student stopped by.

Occasionally students come back to get transcripts because of applying for college later than right after high school. This student had served 5 years in the Marines and was now going taking classes at a community college. He was applying for the major university in town and needed a high school transcript. So while he was at school, he wandered around to see if he could find any of his former teachers.

I was one of the teachers he found. When he came into my room he said my name and then started to introduce himself. He wasn’t assuming that I’d remember him, which was nice. (I actually said his name before he got it out – so this one I did remember and recognize.) When you’ve had hundreds of students, it’s hard to remember each and every one of them.

So we talked about what he had done since high school. He had been stationed in Kuwait, but did not have to go into Iraq. We talked about what he was doing now that he was out of the Marines. And then at the end of the conversation, something completely caught me off guard.

Student: I hope you don’t think this is too forward. But do you think I could have your number and we could get together for coffee sometime?

Me: Uhhh… Do you have email? You can just reach me that way here. …  It was nice seeing you.

How do you respond to that? Is he thinking this is just coffee or a coffee date? To me, it sounded more like he was fishing for a coffee date. Umm… yeah, you’re definitely more confident than you were in high school, and your acne has cleared up nicely. But you’re FOURTEEN years younger than me. I’m flattered and freaked out at the same time. I could be completely wrong. But in my experience, I’m pretty good at reading people.

As a teacher, you never know who or what will walk through your door. But you do know that it’s never predictable.


Quote of the week

“Can she be successful if she takes Calculus and Pre Calculus out of sequence?”

Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean you can’t DO it.

Do I really have a clue about how computers work and how to set them up? Nope. Am I able to get them to work and make a few good guesses about where to plug in cords, etc? Yep.

I just set up my new wireless modem so I can use my new MacBook from home. I really don’t know what I’m doing. Those people that make the pictures on the quick set-up guide are pretty good. I follow the directions on the pictures and presto: it worked. Of course, I did call to find out the code so I could access my wireless from my laptop. Uh… the code is printed on the modem. Yeah, I felt kind of dumb. Oh well…

I think I’m going to tell this story in class. There are a lot of things that you don’t actually know how to do. But if you give them a try, they just might work. I recall many times when I was a student, following the pattern of steps in a math problem, not understanding what I was doing, and somehow magically getting the correct answer. The point is that it doesn’t hurt you to try. And heck- you just might get it right!

Ridin’ the Roller Coaster

Today was the first day back for teachers. I wouldn’t say I was super duper excited to get back, but I wasn’t dreading it. After going to the workshop last week and getting my new MacBook, I was pretty excited. I was thinking about how I could use my new found knowledge in teaching Trig and Pre Calc. So all in all, I would say that I had a good attitude and was pretty upbeat.

Is cheerful really that hard to do on day one? We all know that we have a tough road ahead. Our kids are coming in less prepared every year. We’re newly designated title 1. Enrollment is down. The microscope under which we all work, is turned up. I needed a little inspiration today. I needed a little, “The road ahead will be tough, but we can do it” kind of talk. Did it happen? Nope.

We did have a guy talk to us about making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). We did in reading the last two years, which is great. Math is another story. And as a Math teacher, you can’t help but feel like you have a bulls-eye on your head. Some college could probably write a semester long course about how to understand the NCLB law and how everything works. In order to understand how they calculate AYP, AYP-Safe Harbor 1, AYP-Safe Harbor 2, etc. I think you need to be a statistician. The man who coined the phrase “fuzzy math” sure had his peeps figure out some math that’s way beyond the average bear.

So I’m ridin’ the roller coaster of emotions. I was up, then I was down. I got on my treadmill and ran off some stress to get part way up the hill again. I’m tired of people telling me the problem and not offering any solutions. It’s my nature to problem solve. I don’t want to hear the down side. I already know it. Give me something to keep my hopes up and help me to try to fix the problem. I operate much better under those conditions. Maybe the district Math meeting will give me some hope on Wednesday. If not hope, at least some ideas of how to work in this situation.

Now that I have it, how does it work?

I went to a workshop this morning. I’m part of the high school technology initiative in my district. This is the sixth year of the program. It was originally going to be a 3 year program, but they wrote another grant and got money to extend it. They started with 4th grade teachers and have worked their way up through the grade levels.


Each teacher gets a MacBook computer with an LCD projector for their use in the classroom. We have a variety of workshops that we can go to throughout the school year. We only have to go to two. We also meet with our technology coach for 3 separate 1 hour sessions. We attend a showcase in May and we also participate in an on-line forum and keep up some sort of site.

This is the coolest thing that I’ve done in several years. Yes, it’s very cool to get a laptop for free. (I can’t seem to stop using the word cool.) But the possibilities of learning and doing neat things in my classroom are so exciting! I want to take more than just the two required classes. We’ve got iPhoto, iMovie and a whole host of other programs that I have no clue how to operate on these things. There’s also subscriptions for online resources that the district has for our use that I’ve never looked at. I haven’t even mentioned that we can run it as a PC with Windows XP or as a Mac. I’m used to a PC. But there are so many cool things that can be done with a Mac that I want to get used to this in Mac mode.

There are 165 teachers participating in this program. The theory is that since they started this with 4th grade and worked their way up, we should be getting some of those kids whose teachers already went through the program. I have no idea if any of mine will have had exposure to it. But I can tell you that I’m going to take full advantage of what I can do with this!

Too Late?

I went to my favorite big box store today. I had my list. When I arrived, I remembered that I was going to check out their school supplies. I can’t resist buying my share of paper, pencils, pens, markers, etc.

It’s only August 19th. School doesn’t start until September 2nd.

They were out of pencils.

Pencils are the one school supply that I really need. I’ve got enough scratch paper from over the years to deal with kids that don’t have paper. But pencils? How can you do math without a pencil? I always get a few boxes of pencils so I have enough for the entire year. The pencils seem to walk away pretty easily. But then again, I don’t really worry about it. If I can furnish them with a 2 cent pencil, it’s fine by me.

So… now I’ll have to go other places to find my pencils in bulk. It will be kind of a pain, but I’ll do it. I just wish they weren’t so gung ho on selling school supplies so far before school starts. Or at least look at a calendar of when the local schools start.

Drew Cartoon

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics. I’ve been an Olympic Junkie since the 1980 winter games.

While in Colorado I had a really good laugh from a Drew Litton cartoon in the Rocky Mountain News.

I guess that makes me almost 51!

(Please click on the link above to see the cartoon. I don’t think I should post it due to copyright laws.)

To see any more of his cartoons click here.