Second Breakfast: Fresh Start

This week has been rough and I haven’t even done any teaching of high schoolers yet. I have been feeling more anxious than usual about the start of the school year for the past couple weeks and this week of in-service days made it a little worse. The sudden busyness of getting ready for the year and all of the tasks I need to do before I have learners in my class has me all turned around. I had a small breakdown in a department meeting on Tuesday, but I am doing better now. I have a really great department with supportive people and my administrators have been great as well. The anxiety has gone down to normal beginning-of-the-year jitters coupled with the frantic working of getting my classes ready.

Yesterday I gave a quick one hour session sharing Reader’s Theater from Elizabeth Statmore, Clothesline Math from Chris Shore, and One Hundred Factorial from David Butler. This went well and I was excited to share the stuff I learned at #tmc17 with other teachers from my district.

This year I am teaching Foundations Of Algebra again, but we have a completely new pacing guide, textbook, and supplemental curriculum from the state that we have to use so that is feeling like a new class. Or at least half a new class.

I am also teaching Geometry for the first time I currently feel like I am drowning in figuring that out.

There’s more I could blog to process my thoughts, but I still have a lot to do so I don’t want to spend too much time writing. I saw my two freshman classes of Foundations of Algebra today for Fresh Start. I only had 20 minutes with each of them and we just played Blobs and Lines for 15 or so. Then I spent the last 5 making sure they all knew where they were going next and not to bring their cell phones on Tuesday when we have the first day of class.

They are definitely chatty freshman and I’m going to be spending time getting them into shape.


What About Second Breakfast? Blogging My Second Year Of Teaching

Now that the high of Twitter Math Camp 2017 has worn off, I am starting to feel apprehensive about beginning my second year teaching high school math. I have been feeling apprehensive all summer. I think I will continue to feel apprehensive for the first couple weeks of the year until I settle into a groove. (Assuming I settle into a groove.)

I’ve had people tell me the difference between first and second year is like night and day.

I’ve had people tell me that the above sentence is garbage.

I’ve had people tell me the truth is somewhere in between.

Bah. We’ll find out.

I know that I said at the end of last year that I wasn’t going to continue my habit of daily posts once I had finished teaching, but that was end-of-the-year fatigue talking and this is end-of-the-summer refreshed writing. So I am going to daily blog my second year of teaching too. I figure I should have a new theme though since I’m not a rookie anymore. I couldn’t come up with anything better than a second breakfast joke so I’m going with that.

I really hope this anxiety goes away once I start teaching again though.

Thanks for reading.


Okay, fine. #mtbos is a club. We want you to be in it.

I have been tweeting along with math teachers since 2011 before there was something called the #mtbos. I used the hashtag to find educators I could learn from, resources I could use, and kindred spirits to draw encouragement from. I asked questions on the #mtbos tag and shared resources I found. Before there was #mtbos it was just people talking about math and math education on the internet to help each other and become better and I considered that to still be true after #mtbos was coined. If you were talking online about math through twitter or blogs then you were #mtbos. (Apparently some of you were #mtbos and didn’t even know it.)

Today, I use #mtbos for two things, which are basically the two things I have always used it for: community and resources. At the beginning of Twitter Math Camp 2017 Dan Meyer posted what has become a highly controversial blog entry for the math education twitter community.  Apparently the biggest criticism of #MTBoS or the Math-Twitter-Blogosphere is the perception that #mtbos is an exclusive club that you have to be worthy to enter. Many people have written on this better than I can and I have so many thoughts that I am afraid that if I let this blog post go on for too long it will go off the rails. So I will try to keep it short.

I saw some criticism of tweeting inside jokes from Twitter Math Camp. This frustrated me a lot. Inside jokes are a natural outgrowth of friendships and shared experiences, especially in get-away camp-like environments. They are not bad. I shared some of my thoughts about this on Twitter:

  1. The opposite of an exlusive club culture is a culture where no friendship is expressed and community is lost because we are afraid of excluding someone by expressing friendship.
  2. People in #mtbos are allowed to be friends. They are allowed to express that friendship publicly.

Fawn Nguyen responded that people were being made to feel guilty about having friends and she wasn’t going to apologize to anyone for finding friends in community. I agree whole-heartedly.  If you take away the community part of #mtbos then I can just get the resources from Google. The best part of #mtbos is the people in the community. They have completely transformed my teaching philosophy. When a community is as good as the #mtbos is, it is natural for others to see it and go, “Man I want to be a part of that.” When others want to be a part of your community that’s a good sign, not a bad one. It means the community is healthy. I think perhaps because of this discussion those of us who claim #mtbos are reacting against the label of a club. But let’s embrace it.


We’re a club.

It’s a kick-ass club with great people and we learn a lot and tell dumb inside jokes.

There’s no fees to join unless you count your wireless carrier bill.

Please join us. We really want you to. Yes you.



#TMC17 Wrap-Up

I was lucky enough to attend Twitter Math Camp this year. I should have been working on a daily summary post but there were so many people to meet in person that I pretty much passed out once I got back to the hotel room.

To help me remember all the things I have learned at this conference I’m gonna list my big takeaways here and then I’ll go back and write separate blog posts on each topic.

  • #clotheslinemath
  • Talking Points and Readers Theatre
  • Exeter Math
  • Organizing People and Organizing Problems
  • Playing with math
  • Debate in math class and Which One Doesn’t Belong

This week there was some controversy about what #MTBoS means and who belongs and how welcoming the community is. While some debate raged and continues to rage on Twitter, I want to talk about all of the awesome and friendly math educators I met while at this conference. While I learned some great things that I am excited to implement in my room and share with my colleagues, the people at the conference were the best part.

I found Glenn Waddell. (This was literally the first thing I did, as I saw him walking to Waffle House when I pulled in to the parking lot of the hotel.)

I roomed with John Golden, who was absolutely great. We talked at the end of each day and also enjoyed some meals at some great restaurants his wife scouted out ahead of time.

I finally got to meet Justin Aion, my Twitter twin, and Megan Schmidt, my twitter nemesis (JK Megan), in person. (Along with many, many others who I have been talking to since 2011.)

I played with math and all kinds of games invented by David Butler, who I goofed off with the whole conference.

I attended great sessions with Ali Grace, Jessica Beck, and Lisa Melendy.

I ate spicy food with Nicky Allen.

I got my butt kicked in euchre along with Bob Batty by Nicole Paris and Anna Scholl.

I had great math and math education conversations with Kent Haines.

I learned so much over a 3-day session run by Elizabeth Stanton.

I solved puzzles with Maureen Ferger and then we destroyed a table of math teachers at a trivia game with Meg Craig.

I disappointed Sheri Walker when we barely lost another round of trivia.

I ate humble pie after Nik destroyed me with my own Magic The Gathering Deck.

I got punched by Hedge. Twice. (I deserved it both times.)

I debated the merits of dishwashers with Anna Vance and Dylan Kane.

I got great coffee with Benjamin Walker.

I made math art with Malke Rosenfeld and Annie Perkins.

I swapped interesting facts with Sean Sweeney. He’s internet famous twice over.

I sat through 3 keynotes with Melissa Allman.

I messed up sequences with Bryan Johnson that we learned from Doug McKenzie. And then the three of us worked on another puzzle together.

I talked for a long time over beers with Jim Doherty about public versus private school.

I received a free TI Inspire and a hug from the Calculator Fairy/#MTBoS High Priestess/#MTBoS Figurehead Kate Nowak.

I was nerd sniped by James Cleveland. (Cut a 1×3 rectangle into 3 equal pieces that can be reassembled into a square.)

I tried vegan food with Jasmine Walker and Ethan Weker. (I know, I know. I atoned for my sins by eating biscuits and sausage gravy the next morning with Jasmine, James, and John.)

And many other excellent interactions. This conference was a huge encouragement to me was timed perfectly as I start to gear back up for my second year of teaching high school.

Thank you, everyone!





Feedback From My Online Class

If I may be permitted to brag about myself in a post for a moment since usually I am telling you all how I screwed up a lesson on here, I have a message from one of my online calculus students that I found to be very encouraging, especially since I worry that my online classes aren’t “real” classes.

“It is sad that this is our final check-in because I can honestly say I never had a better math experience. The past two semesters with you have been some of my greatest learning experiences because your flexibility and willingness to work with students. The midterm went much better than I had expected, I scored a 98.7/100. I feel like your teaching style has made it easier for me to learn on my own. I appreciate all the time and effort you put into emailing us and reminding us on the work we have due and if we have any questions, letting us know you are there for us. I honestly can’t think of any suggestions for the course besides I was wondering what your grading scale was. I didn’t see it in the syllabus and I was wondering what is an A, like if it is by tens or sevens. For example is there such thing as an A-? Thank you so much for everything you have done for me, it has truly had a positive impact on my time at UC. I appreciate and admire you as a teacher, even though we never had the chance to meet face-to-face. Once again thank you so much, and have a wonderful evening. “



Rookie Year: Day 180


Rookie Year: Day 179

Things are really starting to wind down. My last class completed their final assignment today. I will see them again tomorrow but there won’t be any graded work and donuts.

I found out my course load for the fall already. I will be teaching Foundations of Algebra again, as well as some CP Geometry sections. I am excited to teach something that I have never taught before, but I am also nervous. I was hoping to teach all Algebra again for my second year so that I could refine lesson plans rather than come up with new ones. Well, at least it won’t be boring. Plenty to blog about in the fall.

I cleared out my room and got it ready for the summer. It didn’t take me that long to do, which tells me that I need to use more decorations next year. Seriously, it took me all of 10 minutes to put up everything and clear off my desk.

I remember thinking at the beginning of the year, around the 1st or 2nd week, how far away tomorrow felt. Day 180. I was so tired that first semester and I kept thinking about how miserable I was at the end of my student teaching, and I was afraid that this rookie year would be that again. It wasn’t.

It was difficult and I am glad to be almost done, but it wasn’t as bad as it was when I student taught. I’m not dreading the fall. In fact, I’m looking forward to it! Don’t get me wrong, I am not wishing away the summer. I fully intend to enjoy it to the full. But I am also excited to give this job another go.

Thanks for reading.