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updates for 05.05.2012

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In which I slam on the brakes

It's a tumble-onto-bed, asleep-before-you-fall kind of Friday night. I got home from having a singular adult beverage with my team by 6 PM.  I sat down on my bed at 6:05, and at 7 I opened my eyes, astonished that, at some point, I must have closed them. It's not that I worked so very hard this week, or that I feel unusually stressed.  It's not that I was shocked, shocked I tell you to find poor behavior in the fourth-to-last week of school. In fact, with a day of professional development, I only spent four of five days with my precious angels this week. But still, I'm tired down to my phalanges.  My distal tibia is tired and so is my proximal radius.  If I were a camel, my crazy branching metapodials would be tired too.  I'm so tired that I'm reverting to college... I can see myself in a basement lab with buckets of bovid bones, sorting for age biases in the sample of my thesis... I can smell the wet lab down the hall which must be doing freezer inventory... Oops, sorry, stepped into an alternate universe there. There are a lot of reasons to be tired at the end of the school year, but here is mine.  There is a part of me (a very tiny part, and if you ask me about it, I'll deny it) that is frustrated that it's ending.  Frustrated because I feel like I am JUST NOW starting to understand my kids, and JUST NOW starting to see what they need, and JUST NOW starting to figure out how to make it happen. All of this is well and good, because we can hope that I have learned my lessons for next year's batch of wide eyed sixth graders.  But it doesn't change the fact that tonight I'm tired from slamming the brakes on this beyond control, helter-skelter school year as I try for three more weeks to get it at least a little bit right.

"Mister, I wanna ask you something."

Questions that I hate getting from students:

  • "Can I go to the library to finish my homework for another class?" [Um, seriously? No.]
  • "Why do we have to do math today? Can't we just watch a movie?" [I'm so sorry that I'm making you do math in a math class. I must be a terrible person.]
  • "Do I have to show my work?" [Do as you please, but are you really going to give up the chance for partial credit because you don't want to spend ten seconds showing work?]
  • "Can we use a cheat sheet on the exam?" [No, all you're going to do is copy down every possible type of question I might ask so that you don't have to do any thinking.]
  • "Can I borrow a pencil?" [WHY don't you have a pencil? This is the third one I've given you this week. Are you eating them?]


Questions that I love getting from students:
  • "What happens if you have something else in the problem, like a fraction/exponent/negative number/different intercept/etc.?" [Muahaha I don't know, let's try it and find out.]
  • "Isn't this the same thing we did last week?" [Yes, dear child, yes it is! You are learning after all!]
  • "When will we ever use this real life?" [You're asking the right person. Here's a list of fourteen situations when you might use this—want to hear them? No? Okay, moving on then...]
  • "Can I use the method that [insert another teacher] taught me instead?" [You can use whatever method you want, but only if you can tell me why it works.]
  • "Doesn't this come up in physics or something?" [YES, all the time! Math and physics are like arroz and pollo, you can't have one without the other.]
  • "Can I please come after school for extra help?" [You don't even have to ask—I'll see you at 3:54.]
  • "If you graduated from Yale, why do you teach at this school?" [Because a question like that makes sense to ask. And because you guys are my babies.]

are we done yet?

First of all, happy Star Wars day! May the 4th be with you! My kids are so done, and I'm running  out of ways to motivate them.  The 7th grade teachers are giving a cross-curricular semester project, and all of the kids just want to work.  What I'm doing in class is reviewing different topics that I know will be really helpful to them in 8th grade, like GCF/LCM, equations, exponents, etc.  I do a quick demo of 1 or 2 problems, and then they do centers with practice of that particular topic.  This is the most painless way I can think of reviewing that skill, but some of my kids just don't want to do anything.  Their grades are dropping, and they don't seem to care. The difficult part about it is that I don't really care either at this point.  How do you combat this end-of-the-year apathy?

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