wrapping up year 1 of teaching

  • things that have been on my mind lately
    • i want to crochet something for students in some way but it either needs to be a very small (like 5 minutes each) type thing, or i don’t give one to everyone. perhaps only my advisees.
    • how to send off the seniors? I don’t teach any, but i know a handful from clubs and the play and such, and i would like to celebrate them
    • this department is really shifting. there is so much possibility here.
    • how are there so few weeks left. one month from now i will be done with my first full year. beginning to end with the same students.
    • grades are meant to be simple, transparent communications but also convey so much information and i dont know how to do that accurately/meaningfully (yet?)
    • there are so many things i wish i could do to wrap things up and reflect and preplan for next year because im already excited to try this dice project again. its going pretty well but there are a lot of things i would do differently the second time around and i am excited to try again!
    • a middle school art teacher in florida was fired for allowing discussion of sexuality and identity in class. i am tired. i am sad. i am anxious.
      • every week it feels like my humanity is questioned anew.

i feel quite small today

Today, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to make it illegal for doctors to proscribe gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth (18 and under).

I am grateful for what a few representatives said in the battle that ended in a vote of 66-28 in favor of this bill.

Rep. England: “You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it is about is scoring political points and using those children as collateral damage”

Rep. Rafferty: “Its totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”

I was pretty numb while I read this headline at first. A protective numbness.

I was numb until I reached this quote in the article from Rep. Wes Allen: “Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,”

When I read that, I was angry. I was frustrated by the utter stupidity of it all. I wanted to storm down to that house and explain to this man that going through puberty ~naturally~ or whatever Is A Choice, and a choice with lasting, lifelong repercussions. I want to ask why he thinks the state should be able to make this choice for children: A choice that he states will have lasting effects on their bodies.

I have been fighting my body for years, and if I had been given the option at the beginning to not have to go through that, hell yes I would have picked that.

I’m not a better person for having had two puberties. I’m just sadder.

All I want is to be able to protect those kids in Alabama. I want to protect my trans students from the ricocheting pain I am feeling after this bill. And after all the rest.

I feel quite small today.

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/07/1091510026/alabama-gender-affirming-care-trans-transgender

Focuses of the week

  1. School/Work
    1. Finalize plan for 3D print project guidelines
      1. begin trial run of it
    2. Area Unit arc + collect puzzles
    3. Brainstorm probability idea
  2. Crochet
    1. Get to yellow section of the sweater I am pattern testing
    2. finish back of sweater
  3. Self Care
    1. journal 1 sentence every day
    2. designate time to care for friendships/relationships
  4. Chores
    1. Plan yard cleanup
    1. New dog training schedule
    2. make appointments
    3. clean carpets
  5. 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.)
    1. Remember to STRETCH
    2. Try running a bit
    3. Coordinate 5k team for https://www.laughingatmynightmare.com/

Looking forward to:

  • Play games/do puzzles
  • cook yummy food
  • romp around outside with the dogs
  • snuggle
  • watch good tv/listen to good podcasts
  • friends who make me laugh
  • being back with students who make me laugh
  • feeling rested (pls)
  • roller blade season can start soon hopefully
  • doctors appointments to help my joints not hurt

motivation when I’m tired

(Alternatively titled: A teaching philospohy)

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.



Black trifold board poster with a rainbow geometric stripe from the bottom left to top right. Title in silver: lgbteacher: being out in the classroom as an act of radical honesty. 
Bottom right is a timeline with pictures. Middle contains titles with flap doors that reveal to more
final project for my first grad school class in teaching in 2019

long and short term goals and dreams

But who’s to say which is which

  • Create a math elective
  • Decorate/organize classrooms and office
  • write a play
  • create knit/crochet clothing
  • create a gender retreat or pen pal network or mentoring network or something related to giving the trans youths a place to explore gender
  • write pretty math puzzles
  • make cool escape room puzzles
  • crochet cool things
  • knit cool things/learn to knit
  • Research the crossover of fiber art and math
  • journal/post updates more consistantly
  • write poetry
  • Create art with trash
  • Learn more about 3d printing
  • Write a letter to students thanking them for being my first group I’ve thought for a full year
  • Do a workshop on gender/trans competency for faculty
  • Learn to roller skate more
  • Find a way to get back into dance

right now in Texas

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

assorted thoughts from my notes app (pt. 4)

  1. quote from C: “I like having options even though I hate making decisions”
  2. reading recommendations from a friend: Heartstopper, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
  3. 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.”
  4. shopping list for yarn
  5. “How much corn” (thats the whole note)
  6. ideas for a review day: “Crocheting Olympics”
  7. quotes from C playing video games:
    1. “That was not very nice”
    2. “aaaauh”
  8. “I won’t let other people use gender against me”

themes from writing feedback: fall 2021

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. 

Commendations

  • 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.

Recommendations

  • 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.

Comments

  • 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.

guiding thoughts for 2022

Alternatively titled: things learned in 2021

  • trust my note to self from a while back (see thoughts i found in my notes app while cleaning it out pt 2): “I have to consider the possibility that I have not done something wrong up to this point”
    • perhaps i need to approach this year differently than past years: I am not trying to fix all my mistakes from the year before and break all my “bad habits”. I am not trying to reset and have this finally be the year where I get everything together.
    • I don’t want to reset. I am happy where I am.
  • processing things takes time. its messy and chaotic but when the dust clears, things will feel better.
  • sharing thoughts with people i care about helps me feel closer to them. who would have guessed.
  • allow myself to rest. I need more rest than I think I do, and that’s okay.