Get to yellow section of the sweater I am pattern testing
finish back of sweater
journal 1 sentence every day
designate time to care for friendships/relationships
Plan yard cleanup
New dog training schedule
Walking Practice: walking training season* is in full swing, and my dogs and I are working on gaining some confidence in stressful/overly exciting situations (ie. there are any bikes, other dogs, amazon delivery trucks, cars that are too loud or are going too fast, roller skates, squirrels, strollers, all the smells, etc.)
In trying to understand who I am as a teacher I found a misconception I had been holding on to: I thought the pull to teaching was math.
(And I do love math I am grateful to have it as a partner in this endeavor I love its definitiveness and ambiguity
Give me good pattern any day of the week and I’ll be happy Or an algorithm a visualization a comparison a mapping a graph a prediction a puzzle
Math is a language where you can express both more and less than you can with words.
Math carries a precision that syllables and sentences never can Yet fails to articulate the finest points of humanness)
But to say I am tied to teaching because I love math is a knot that will unravel under tension. I would not have ended up here if I had not accompanied a bouquet of trans folks On legs of their expeditions: Through crushing expectations Through meeting themselves Through glimmers of expansive freedom Through letting the world in to meet them.
I teach in order to hold a place for these gender explorers and defiers For these norm breakers For these students looking for someone to see them, to know them.
I stumbled into teaching with my crochet hook and calculator with enormous and hazy and overwhelming dreams To chip away at these walls against which my back is pressed To exist where they said we couldn’t To make space for us.
powerful people Think that it is abuse To let me feel free
They want our existence to be reported Our support systems ripped out from under us
They want us gone Because we make them question every lie they ever told themselves about how they were allowed to exist through the world
We make them confront the terrifying expanse that the universe becomes when you realize it is your right to define yourself boundlessly, to be fully human, fully unique and yet the same, fully perfect and yet never not fully a work in progress
There are people Who Think that it is abuse To help me feel free
But who refuse to see the enormously obvious, heart shatteringly painful reality that is That their words rip open barely healed wounds There will be unthinkable, unforgivable pain because of this There will be lives broken and lost.
I want to hold a message of hope. Of ‘we will prevail’.
But it’s hard to stay positive and be a trans person in a world where your right to exist continues to be questioned in new old ways. I’m tired. I’m in pain.
——- Required afterthought: But we will care for eachother And we will care for ourselves And we will be free
There is a lot of discussion around what the math department at my school will look like over the coming years. I rarely contribute to the discussions, sometimes out of anxiety but mostly because I am listening to what others have to say. I want to fully understand where we stand right now and how we got there before I can begin imagining where I want us to go. Here are some things that have come up when I have been thinking about this.
I want us to be a place:
Where you problem solve and model and visualize and predict
Where you learn to communicate precisely
Where you practice seeing patterns and connections
Where you use logical and organized thinking
Where you analyze and critique the world you live in, and brainstorm solutions
Where you come out in the end fundamentally believing in your ability to struggle productively
Where you lean into the unknown and the confusing with curiosity and creativity
Where you learn to ask questions far more than you find answers
quote from C: “I like having options even though I hate making decisions”
reading recommendations from a friend: Heartstopper, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
pretty sure this is a journaling note when I was panicking and trying to calm myself by writing down all the thoughts: “We are all just human. We are all big and little. We are universes contained within universes. Of course this is hard.”
Answering emails (particularly work emails) is one of my least favorite parts of my day. I don’t understand the level of formality or conventions. I am always afraid I am going to say something slightly wrong, or have a typo, or reply with the wrong tone. But I’m pretty proud of myself this week.
My reply to asking if I would like to work on a costume in the next few weeks: “Thanks for thinking of me! I am currently stretched a little thin, and so I think I have to say no to this one sadly. But I can’t wait to see the show!”
Wow did I just say no to a thing?
My reply to a student (my first one ever!) asking me to write them a recommendation: “It is submitted! Good luck, and let me know what happens with this. The program looks incredible!”
I asked for help!?
“I was wondering if you have any advice for facing the next few weeks. I am struggling to find a way to best prepare lessons for students in school, knowing that in some of my classes as many as 1/3 of the students are out for the next week or so.”
Checking in with students who were on quarantine: “I just wanted to check in and see if there is anything you need looking towards coming back to school. We have missed you!”
I went back and counted, and I have 21 email conversation from students about covid from this week. Each conversation has 3-15 emails in it.
I shared a puzzle I found and liked (found here): “Here is a cool puzzle thing that I found and am going to use for an opener in Geo.”
These are really fun and students loved them and I am excited to do more things like this.
to acknowledge that I want a child
is to acknowledge that my parents wanted me
that someone wants me
that someone thought the world would be better off with me in it
that without me, something was missing.
and for some reason my soul has trouble accepting that.
Reflecting (~7 months after originally writing this poem): i really want to be a parent someday. i want to be a soft place for a child to land when things get hard (i heard this phrase recently and its stuck in my head. it just feels nice). I want to be a safe space to be imperfect. i want the experience of parenthood. i think i would be good at it.
At the end of the term, my school has a thing called narrative comments: individual written feedback by each teacher to each student. A typical structure (and the one I chose) was 3 sections: commendations, recommendations, and comments. Below are some excerpts from my first term of comments.
You do a great job of leaning into the challenges in class. We have had many concepts that were tricky and nuanced, but you have always been willing to jump in and start trying to make sense of them.
You do a great job of pulling apart diagrams/breaking complex problems into smaller, more manageable problems.
You always come to class with a great attitude and a willingness to work with anyone.
You are very good at working slowly and methodically through problems and keeping your work organized. This will serve you well and we continue to delve into more complex problems.
You do a great job of asking for help with focused and specific questions. This shows me that you have put a lot of thought into your work before looking to other resources for help.
I was very impressed with your work on the unit 4 assessment, and the thoroughness of your proof map. Your best work comes out when you have the time to dig deep into a complex problem.
You use your time in class efficiently, and take advantage of extra class time to start homework. This is a great habit that allows you to get your questions answered before you leave.
Over the term I have seen a large growth in your skills tackling difficult problems. You seem more willing to dive into the complexity, rather than shy away from it.
Your work is always thorough and well thought out. Your homework could be an answer key. I appreciate your ability to communicate so clearly and precisely in your work.
You are patient and kind to group mates when they find a problem more difficult than you do. You do an excellent job of balancing listening to others’ thoughts and contributing your own.
Continue to push yourself with communicating mathematically. There is a lot of specific notation in geometry, but it all serves a purpose. Becoming as comfortable as possible with notation (in diagrams and written out) will help to avoid confusion or miscommunications in your work.
When you face a problem that feels overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller pieces. Another strategy is to list out everything you know in the problem. It will surprise you how much information you already know
Work on improving the organization of your work in order to communicate more clearly. Your process should be able to be read and understood by someone else.
Work on understanding and using math notation when marking up diagrams. In geometry, these figures hold so much information, and it will help if you write on diagrams rather than trying to keep the information in your head.
Practice slowing down when working. With some assignments or problems, you seemed rushed to get it done, causing you to miss some of the details. It will help your understanding to slow down, and take the time to make sure your work is organized well and you understand all the pieces.
Practice approaching problems from different vantage points. See what ways classmates look at problems, and try to understand the similarities and differences in the approach, and why both may work. This will help you be more flexible when approaching unfamiliar problems.
You have done a wonderful job of adjusting to so many changes this year, including switching classes. I am so proud of you for advocating for what you needed, and taking care of yourself. It has been wonderful to see your confidence in math growing.
I really appreciate your honesty when giving me feedback on what works and what does not work for class. Our class is better because your suggestions, and because of your presence and participation.
I want you to know that your effort and hard work is seen, and remind you of the resources that are here to support you.
I appreciate how honest and communicative you are about how you are doing and what difficulties you are having.
You have all the makings of a great mathematician. You think critically and question information that is given to you, you persevere through difficulty, and you do it all with humor and joy.
Continue to hold yourself to high standards, but remember you are allowed to make mistakes as part of the learning process.