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

Defining our purpose: the trajectory of my math department

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

notes from new teacher orientation:

Alternatively titled: I am feeling hopeful and optimistic that I have found a school and people that are a good fit for me, and I am excited to help this school and this faculty and these students grow, and to grow alongside them (:

  1. “we will be better for your presence”
  2. Note to self: I don’t need to change myself to be a good teacher
  3. sitting in a circle = no one’s a satellite
  4. the bond of picking up a conversation where you left off without any hesitation
  5. day 1: working together creatively, playfully, cleverly
  6. action item: get a watch?
  7. middle school = ‘the land of the misdemeanor”
  8. teaching = balancing “the deliberate and the organic”
  9. just breathe
  10. lean into my natural
  11. “What questions are students asking”
  12. lanyard – crochet?
  13. non-stagnant goals
  14. “removing myself as the holder of the answers”
  15. What does it mean for student to have access to a classroom?
  16. “we are responsible for the cultures we create”
  17. reactive vs reflective
  18. noticing without judgement
  19. my teacher was mandated to report what i shared with him, and he did not.
  20. acknowledge what we see, particularly if its not okay
  21. rhythms and rituals
  22. Note to self: Show up. Be open.
  23. Note to self: I want people to know me. That means I have to show myself.
  24. Its about the starting. And the continuing.
  25. “helping students see that you see them”