The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 17 2013

Something’s a-brewin’

Today, I am exhausted. From lack of sleep? Of course. From long days? Yep. But mostly from mental exhaustion. My mind has been on overdrive with ideas: for my classroom, for programs outside of my classroom, for my students, for my own identity. So much thinking.

I’ve been meaning to blog for days, simply because I need to process some of these thoughts. While I hope to write more in-depth posts on some of these topics in the future, I think that bullet points are a more authentic way to record my thoughts right now — quick, intense, and driven by fire.

– New plans for tutoring my students. There is nothing I love more than Wednesday afternoons, when a few of my students take over my classroom. Formulas & problems fill my white board (and the mini-whiteboards in my cabinets), music fills the air, and I know that students are learning. I want to channel this energy & make tutoring such a thing in my classroom — both for tutors & students who need tutoring.

– There is some disconnect in my students’ heads between the reputation of their school and how their actions contribute to it. I hear so many of my students talk about “those kids” and “them” and even “you,” never “we.” Many of my students feel like they’re lumped into a crowd that they don’t belong with – whether or not they choose to act differently than their peers. What to do about this? I don’t know.

– My students are afraid of caring about something deeply, of pursuing a goal wholeheartedly. They’re afraid of being judged. We need to set a goal — a real, tangible, attainable goal — for my students to drive toward. Yep, we talk about passing the EOI and we talk about long-term goals (college, careers, etc.)…but what else? Can we set a goal that matters deeply? A class project — a field trip or some other goal that can become reality for them this year?

– One of my students from Spain pushed back on me yesterday when I called my class out for using the word “gay.” As I perceived it, they were talking about being gay as if it were a negative thing — but my student challenged me. She said that the jokes wasn’t intended be harmful, and that my reaction implied that talking about being homosexual should be taboo. Given my upbringing at a relatively socially conservative school, I’ve been conditioned to assume that joking about homosexuality implies a degree of homophobia. Was my reaction based on that experience, rather than the truths facing my students today?

– Another group of students had a talk about homosexuality at John Marshall during my tutoring period yesterday. I was shocked & impressed with how open & relatively accepting (again, given my background, it felt accepting) my students were talking about this issue. Are high schoolers more accepting of homosexuality today than they were five years ago? Are my assumptions outdated?

My mind is spinning, and it’s all I can do to try to hold it down while I teach math. I see so many patterns and themes within my school’s student body…I feel like we’re on the precipice of something important. Something big will happen this school year — it has to. My kids are incredible, and we are going to make something happen.

What, exactly, is this something? Stay tuned.

About this Blog

My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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