My Two Cents (Week of Oct 5, 2020)

For each school day of the 2020-21 school year, I will be writing two sentences to capture some of the impressions, feelings, experiences, or thoughts I had that day. This is the fourth post in the series.

Monday
They have free breakfast and lunch for staff now. I had both, yum!

Tuesday
Zigzagging between rooms to teach is driving my crazy and keeping me being fully present with my students. Decided today to stay put at my desk and had a productive day.

Wednesday
Seriously considering a “traveling letter of appreciation” for all of my classes this year; it’ll be mailed from one student to the next in lieu of having the token of appreciation. Ending the day feeling isolated and down.

Thursday
Had a mini-debate over orange and apple juice today in first period — orange juice won. It’s needless to say, but my kids still aren’t learning much math.

Friday
I teach no classes on Friday, but this day felt stuffed. Had my first cogenerative dialogue — also known as a cogen — with four students today; I had no idea what I was doing, but I was excited.


bp

My Two Cents (Week of Sept 28, 2020)

For each school day of the 2020-21 school year, I will be writing two sentences to capture some of the impressions, feelings, experiences, or thoughts I had that day. This is the third post in the series.

Monday
No school.

Tuesday
First period was a joke, but it wasn’t a terrible day. My kids aren’t learning any math, but at least we’re getting more comfortable with each other.

Wednesday
My first few “lessons” have been subpar. Realized that, while things are still going horribly, I’m feeling better about things this week; my binder is helping.

Thursday
Gave the kids some individual work and did one-on-ones; some good, needed conversations. This was the first day with students in the building and my brain was all over the place; teaching with a mask on ain’t cool.

Friday
I was finally able to give Mathematical Voices to several of students from last year; that was special. Had a heavy talk with BD after school which reminded me that life is more than White privilege.

bp

In the spring it was different. Now, I’m worried.

In the spring, it was different. I knew those kids. We had spent six months building something before having our school year hijacked. What we knew about each other carried us through those cold, desolate, scary spring months in New York City. It was a dark time. I felt alone and my students felt alone, but at least we had each other. We had a shared history. This history helped us make something out of nothing.

Now, with the hustle of the first week of school well underway, the cold realities of this strange year are slowly sinking in. I’m sitting in my empty classroom teaching students who are represented by icons on a screen. These icons occasionally sound like humans, but are mostly silent. They don’t smile or smirk. They don’t fidget. They don’t laugh. They don’t walk in tired or frustrated. I see names, but they are faceless. We have no history, no memories, nothing to fall back on. It all feels so empty, so fabricated.

I’m worried. I’m misgendering students and forgetting who is even in my class. I’m trying desperately to hang onto details that emerge about who these young people are, but it all seems so rushed and frenzied. Outside of a name and student ID, I have no idea who they are. I’m not sure I ever will.

And, I’m sorry, but teaching math doesn’t make any of this any easier. As someone who places a heavy emphasis on relationships and human connection, the Common Core is incredibly divisive. It lacks humanity and only furthers the distance between my students and I at a time like this. How the hell is the distributive property and right triangle trig going to help me reach my kids?

Maybe there are math teachers out there who can press on with content no matter who or what or when or how. Maybe these teachers can have no semblance of knowledge of who is on their rosters and still be effective. Maybe knowing who their students are beyond a name and an icon is a curse for these teachers. Maybe knowing their students gets in the way. At the same time, maybe my students need a teacher like that. Maybe they would prefer a teacher like that. Why complicate things?

bp

My Two Cents (Week of Sept 21)

For each school day of the 2020-21 school year, I will be writing two sentences to capture some of the impressions, feelings, experiences, or thoughts I had that day. This is the second post in the series.

Monday
Teachers teaching students in empty classrooms throughout the school. By far the strangest first day of school — EVER.

Tuesday
My periods feel rushed, my throat is killing me. A heated RSJ meeting after school leaves me absolutely depleted.

Wednesday
Today feels like it should be Saturday. Responding to the students’ virtual name tents is somehow keeping me grounded.

Thursday
Feeling isolated in both body and spirit. I have no idea who I’m teaching; the future seems bleak.

Friday
Put together a binder with half-page “portfolios” of students; this lifted my mood for the week. I end the week feeling somber, so unsure about everything.

bp