Tuesday, June 09, 2009


So, I survived my first year. Tonight I led a line of ten graduates in green gowns to their seats, and I sat in my full regalia (such as it is, at BA plus nothing), while they walked carefully across the stage, not tripping, waving to their friends, and collecting the empty frame that will someday hold their diploma.

It's over. I did a year.

Here is what I learned:
  1. To the average person on the street, "I teach Calculus" sounds more impressive than "I teach algebra to kids who hate math." Since I was teaching academic kids for the first time, I thought they would be better behaved than they were. On the other hand, I thought the math would be harder than it was. So, in the end, it was a wash. Doing either one well is hard. If you do either one and do it well, then I am impressed with you.
  2. Some kids have an easier time doing a u-substitution if they treat dx as just another variable when they substitute it out for du. I'm just saying.
  3. School spirit can be oppressive. To the kid who didn't stand while the rest of his classmates chanted a cheer during the graduation ceremony, what else do you call it? He's alienated and alone while surrounded by a concrete example of group-think in green gowns. I remember how turned off I was every time my own high school principal ended her daily announcements in her thick Iowa accent with the words "Rocket pride." It's worse when everyone drinks the cool aid. Or eats the cake, as the case may be.
  4. Even for a tech-y teacher like me, technology won't get used in a school-setting unless someone outside of the classroom supports you. And by "supports you" I mean "gives you a phone number to call if the technology fails" and "prods you to see new ways of using the tools to reach more kids" and "catches hold of your enthusiasm for creative uses of technology in your classroom".
  5. Leaving your room is important. Next year, I'm going to have to leave my room to team teach two periods a day. I can't wait to form new relationships and get to know new parts of my building. I spent one year on the Island of Alex. Year two is all about building a boat.
Congratulations to the class of 2009.

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