awards season

I gave each of my students an individual award for the end of the year. Below are the awards (slightly edited for anonymity).

  1. Product of Zero Award: Most Persuasive
  2. Absolute Value Award: staying positive when things are hard, bringing joy and humor to our class
  3. Math Center Award: best use of resources and asking questions
  4. D20 award: Best world builder
  5. Denise chickulant award (named after the succulent in our class): positivity and adaptability
  6. Proof Award: Excellence in class participation and mathematical explainations
  7. Exponential award: Mathematical growth
  8. x^2+y^2 = 1 award: well rounded, and rolls with the punches
  9. Craftsperson Award: creativity and skill in many mediums
  10. Secret Mathematician: Most likely to ask if we can not do math in math class
  11. Tony Award: accomplishment in the dramatic and mathematic arts
  12. Fractal Award: A mathematician who is meticulous, organized, and precise
  13. Sunflower award: Most growth, and for being ray of sunshine
  14. Chameleon award: makes the best of any situation
  15. Technicion Award: Most likely to build a computer from scratch, and excellence in tinkering and finding the joy in a puzzle
  16. Calculator award: Most likely to have done all the math in their head before half the class heard the question
  17. Distributive property award: Best person to spill tea with
  18. Best New Artist: Painting
  19. Divide by 0 award: Best person to be stranded on a desert island/get you out of a bind
  20. Apothem Award: for keeping us grounded, clever solutions, and also making us laugh
  21. Cosine Award: For someone who is adaptable, practical, and perseveres through challenges
  22. Prime number Award: For someone who demonstrates individuality, curiosity, and strength.
  23. Probability Award: Most competitive at games of chance, as well as someone who always pushes themselves to improve
  24. X^x: For excellence in volleyball, leadership, algebra skills, and positivity
  25. Proof By Induction Award: For witty comments, persuasiveness, great communication, and clever mathematical solutions
  26. Java Award: Most likely to be a vigilante hacker
  27. Exponential Award: Most likely to make forbes 30 under 30
  28. Rising Star Award: Given to a freshman who shows wisdom, discpline, and skill beyond their years
  29. Parabola award: For excellence in 3 point shots, and for willingness to lean into difficulty and grapple with complex ideas and problems
  30. GCF Award: For excellence in collaboration and making connections between concepts
  31. Tangent Award: Most likely to steer the conversation in an extremely interesting (if unrelated) direction
  32. 2022 Award: For someone who embodies the best part of this year together: fruits nacks, flexibility, fun, friendship, and a finding where you fit in this community.
  33. Unmasked award: For authenticity, compassion, risk taking, and kindness.
  34. Wordsmith: For excellence in fast typing and word puzzle solving, and general cleverness and collaborative skill
  35. Canada Award: For excellence in leadership, athleticism, fidgeting, style, and perseverance
  36. For excellence in collaborative problem solving, creative thinking, reading prowess, and openmindedness.
  37. CPS (clicks per second) Award: For fastest gaming, googling, and wordle completing.
  38. Blooket Award: For speed, accuracy, and good sportsmanship.
  39. Desmos Award: Excellence in graphing, visualization, and precision
  40. Linear Function Award: Someone who keeps us on track, and is consistent in their effort and enthusiasm
  41. Rational Function Award: For someone who excels in logic, organization, and finding unusual methods of solving problems.
  42. The Phantom Tollbooth Award: For embodying the spirit of Milo (the main character in The Phantom Tollbooth). This award is given to someone with extraordinary creativity, cleverness, and growth throughout the year.
  43. (Breaking the) Glass Ceiling Award: for someone who defies expectations, holds themselves to high expectations, and advocates for their needs
  44. Quadratic Award: For excellence in box factoring and mathematical explanations.
  45. 18th Hole Award: For golf skill, kindness, compassion, and perseverance.
  46. Piecewise function: For someone with many changes and bumps along the way through this year, but who managed to find a path through with positivity and humor.
  47. The Lightbulb Award: For someone who asks great questions, and uses their understanding to help others understand. This award goes to someone who helps others see the joy in mathematics and problem solving.
  48. High School Musical Award: For positivity, openness to trying new things, kindness, and commitment to the bit
  49. Glee Award: for excellence in collaboration, community building, and communication

Awards named for colleagues

  1. For someone who has worked hard to make connections in the community, and goes out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcome. You are someone listens without judgment, and who is always trying to understand the perspectives of others.
  2. For a leader and in the community with big visions, high expectations, and good humor.
  3. For being unafraid to stand up for the right thing
  4. For Kindness and compassionate leadership
  5. For a lover of calculus
  6. For perseverance, good humor, curiosity, and tenacity
  7. For someone who is kind, consistent and clever
  8. For creativity and Enthusiasm
  9. For someone who is prepared, organized, thoughtful
  10. for curiosity, collaboration, singing, and style

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”