Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 50: Soooooo Tired

I told them they are no longer allowed to use "pi" in their answers.
Other suggestions that I received from my friends on Facebook:
The Fractal Gourmet
3 Squared Meals
Pi Making
Cooking with FOIL
Pi Style
Prime Pi

After all of the excitement of yesterday, as well as lack of solid sleep last night, I am very tired today.  I was planning to finish up the guided notes for chapter 3 in geometry and start a practice test in pre-algebra.  Both of those things happened but, as usual, geometry went WAY off topic.

It started with me telling them about the announcement that a company is working on developing a car powered by thorium lasers.
Perfect for a baby seat!

It went from there to a discussion of radiation, and, somehow, into why we use money instead of barter.  The entire class was engaged, as usual, but I still feel like I should be on topic.  One of two things needs to happen.  Either I need to stop getting sidetracked as often, or I need to simply accept that I will and relish how interested my students are in learning such a diverse group of topics.

Old me would have gone with the first option.  He would tell me that I needed to buckle down and cover the material so these kids can pass the state tests.

New me is telling me not to worry about it.  We are moving through the curriculum at a good pace, we aren't weeks behind and I'm doing something important: I'm fostering curiosity.  I'm also encouraging good questions and the willingness to ask them. 

Finding a balance between tangents and topics is difficult.  While I'm not super comfortable with the balance that I've struck, I don't think I'm going to change it.

In pre-algebra, the students were working on groups on a chapter practice-test.  Banter back and forth between the groups started with teasing about hair and clothes and escalated into arguing about who was smarter.  I watched the interaction silently as it evolved into one girl putting math problems on a whiteboard and two other students racing to the answer.  The problems they were working on were much more basic than I would have liked, but I let it go for two reasons.

First, they were doing math and taking pride in getting the answers right.  I know that if I had suggested this game, they would have refused to participate, but since they were doing it because they wanted to, they were actually having fun with it.
Second, even though the problems were basic, they were practicing and improving their numeracy and comfort with numbers in general.  If I had to identify the one skill that they were lacking above all others, it would be numeracy.

They took a break to go to the bathroom, then came right back and started challenging each other again.  I'm proud of them and fascinated.

Tomorrow, I'll be visiting Mrs. Reilly in the morning and then returning to school for parent conferences.  Should be a fun (and very long) day!


  1. Sounds like a good day. I was hoping to read more (from the title) about being tired, since my day just ended and I am so tired, and ... just blah. Rough day. This one girl in my Period Four Geometry class just turned against me fiercely today, and started fixing me from the front row with these looks of utter hatred. I think maybe I'll move her to the back corner of the class rather than put up with it. I was really riled up about it and wanted to start an argument with her or something; I was on the verge of screwing up that situation even worse than it was already screwed up. What I ended up thinking, after they'd all filed out for lunch, was that ...


    Funny story ... I started writing the above, and then my BTSA mentor showed up and I met with her for an hour and then ran to Trader Joe's and now am just getting back and I check my twitter (and run-on sentences, right?) and there you are--having stopped by my blog with a comment, as I was halfway done with this comment on yours! I haven't taken any pictures since the day I got it--i'll have to remedy that shortly. I'll send you something. The funnest part is seeing my shadow when I'm walking around; it's like, "Who's that guy?" ... I hadn't cut my hair since TMC and I had a high school friend who had gotten a mohawk one random day--we all thought it was awesome--and then shaved it a couple of days later. Which is what I figured I'd do. But ... well, you read the blog post.

    Looking forward to hearing about your visit to Steph. Hey, how's running going? I ran six miles yesterday--trying to match your studly output. Hope all's well.

    1. Running isn't going as well as I would like. :-(
      The half marathon went very well and then I've been having bad runs since then. I need to get back on a schedule if I plan to not gain 100 pounds...

  2. Oh! Man, that's an ugly story I was telling and forgot to finish! Yeah, so what I ended up thinking was that ... should I run up against such barely-disguised dislike again, I can and should confront it directly. "A bad attitude? Good! Try that out, see how it works!" In the moment I was getting all huffy about it, but what right have I to do that. In my life, I've been the king of bad attitude. Blame problems on some authority figure so I don't have to face them myself? Yeah, I'll try that. Absolutely. So ... I see what they're doing, I don't need to be afraid of it, nor do I need to get defensive about it. It's totally normal ... And it's GOOD for me, to face down my own tendency to people-please by coming up against a situation where people are NOT PLEASED. So ... that's the latest.

    I admire your attitude w.r.t. both tangents in Geometry and competitive-if-not-creative math games in pre-Algebra. Keep it up!

    1. Facing bad attitude with bad attitude is something I used to do all the time and I'm trying to get away from.

      My students have so much going on in their lives that even though they are giving me the death-eyes, it could be something completely unrelated that has them upset. If I fight back then that only makes it worse for me and for them.

      As much as it bothers me to do so, I try to let it go and talk to the student later.
      "Are you alright? You didn't seem your normal self today. Did I do something to upset you?"

      Usually it's something that happened at lunch or at home and they just want somewhere to direct the anger.

      I know that I am sharper, more clever and better at fighting back than they are, plus I have authority on my side so I will always win in the end, but if that conflict happens, I lose in the long run.

      I've been trying to make my class a more positive and safe environment this year. It doesn't always work because I still am an angry guy deep inside, but I'm trying and I think the kids appreciate it. For the consequences of that, check out Day 43!

      Good luck, brother! Let me know if I can help you in any way! Even if you just want to talk!

  3. Maybe I will click "Reload" 163 times so I can be the 10,000th person to have wasted their time here


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