edit:  please tell me that someone else out there gets that this is SO! FUNNY!  everybody at my school is either not academic enough to catch the calculator reference or not pop-culture-savvy enough to know who TI is.  I could not. stop. laughing.


Dear Parents.

Here are some things I would like you to know.

1.  Your kid is pretty amazing.  You wouldn’t believe some of the things they can do.  Know them, and give yourself an opportunity to see these things.

2.  Guess what!  Outside of school, grades don’t matter much.

3.  Good people who have good lives, good jobs, and are happy in general, didn’t all get straight As.

4.  Your child is not a failure if they get a C on a test.

5.  It is important that your child tries hard, but their best may not be perfect, and that’s okay.

6.  If you tell me to “LET ME KNOW RIGHT AWAY IF HER GRADE DROPS BELOW A 95%”, I am totally judging you as a bad parent.  Sorry.  I have seen the effect this has on your child.

7.  I didn’t usually have an A in math, and I am a math teacher.  I have struggled with math more than I have succeeded, and I am still good at what I do.

8.  Trying to get your child to take pre-algebra as a 6th grader is completely unnecessary and causes more harm than good.  Not every 10th grader’s brain is developed enough to be ready for calculus.  And if you do push them into that early program, don’t get mad when they are crazy stressed out four years later, or can’t make 100% on every assignment or test.

9.  Social skills are more important than aptitude.  Especially in real life.

10.  Fight the urge to compare your kid to other students.  Help them find their strengths and their passions and encourage them, instead of asking why they weren’t as good at that one thing as that one other kid.

Your awesome kid’s teacher.

I never get tired of Bonus Time Fun Page.  it is my favorite.  I don’t care if other (STUPID) teachers judge me and get angry, it is the best.  it helps my kids to have a good attitude and less fear about test-taking, and it keeps me sane when I am grading.  I’ve got a girl in my advanced class that is just a gem.  I mean, I’ve got lots of them, I really do.   I think sometimes I don’t notice them as much as I should when I am distracted by my one bad class.  I really do have a lot of awesome kids this year.  but this one, she just cracks me up.  she’s always is writing funny stuff all over her papers and I enjoy it thoroughly.  her humor is right up my alley.  this test last week also included a funny drawing about the muffin man getting attacked by a guy named marty.  but anyhow, I digress.  the last BTFP question was a “name that movie quote” question.  she didn’t know any of the movies, so she made up movie titles based on the quotes.  and when I was grading I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.  (correct answer clips:  here, here and here, but respect points if you didn’t need them).

I mean really?  that one about hibernating is my favorite, although really I am a huge fan of all of these.

I have another sweet girl that really just makes my day every day because she’s such a sweetheart.  she brought me the nicest little plate today with like 14 kinds of homemade candy and cookies on it.  (this, along with a santa shaped cookie from another students, sets a new record (2!) for christmas gifts from students in one year).  she is adorable.  here are two of the things she has written in the past few weeks on BTFP:

YES!  I love it.  I love even more that she put jk and drew a different one, like the first one didn’t count or something.   awesome*.
and, this one made me laugh, because I’m sure I have probably said both of those things in class:  (correct answer clip here.)

unrelated to BTFP but related to school:  the library has been cleaning house lately, and I scored like 35 books about geography, one book about alaska, one book about mountains, [so I guess that is like 37 books about geography] and one book on the presidents.  cha-ching!  jackpot.  I am so excited about these books.  my homeroom kids that come to homeroom unprepared are NOT excited, because now when they come unprepared, they are given the task of “here is a book about Cambodia.  make a list of 10 interesting facts.  go.”

 I am the most excited about the book about the presidents.  SPEAKING OF WHICH.  can I tell you the craziest thing I learned last week?  so, Zachary Taylor (yes, we had a president named Zachary Taylor, this would have astonished me a year ago), who was our 12th president, was elected in 1848.  In 1850, he attended the groudbreaking ceremony for the Washington Monument on the 4th of July, and it was like crazy hot.  so he drank a lot of really cold milk and ate a ton of cherries.  and the copious amounts of milk and cherries gave him some crazy stomach problems and five days later he died.  SHUT UP!  I think this is fascinating.  I mean seriously!  the president!  he died because he ate copious amounts of milk and cherries!  that is some crazy s___!  can you imagine if that happened today?  “oh yeah, obama ate a bunch of cherries and milk and now he is so sick he is probably going to die.” I mean, I know it’s modern times, but still.  and they say the doctors weren’t much help and gave him a lot of crazy drugs and stuff.  this college professor in the 1990s even came up with all these theories about him being poisoned, and convinced them to dig up his body to do a more scientific autopsy.  BEE TEE DUBS they found out he was not poisoned: copious amounts of milk and cherries COD confirmed.  why don’t they teach us this stuff in school?   this seems like good information to know.  anyhow.  I will keep you posted on any new information I learn ASAP.

*one time like six years ago, on this question, I had a student that drew a picture of a muffin, then wrote “I don’t understand the question.”  great.  I don’t know what to tell you buddy.

we have one week left before break.  and oh man.  I am so ready.  this semester has been hard.  I have really been challenged with some really difficult students.  some really angry, hateful and ridiculous students.  it is hard that I can’t fix all of them.  it is hard to stay strong and not give up.

but, I think it is also important for me to do what I can to love my job so I don’t get burnt out.  I love writing fun projects.  it is my favorite thing to do.  I also like trying to come up with good activities.  like shredder time challenge, which we did this week in my advanced classes.  the kids fight it but it is so good for them.  it helps me when I am feeling lazy to come up with new stuff.  so as I was getting my algebra 2 kids ready for their quiz on factoring (only the most important skill they will learn all year) we did Excitebike!  now maybe I am not as creative as I think I am, because most of my ideas relate to things that make me laugh, but may not relate to my students at all.  and I am pretty sure Excitebike is one of those things.  we never had Excitebike growing up, but I think it is just a classic and really describes my childhood in a lot of ways.  and of course my kids knew absolutely nothing about it, maybe I should have showed them a video?  but they had a big set of cards, with three cards making a match (one quadratic expression and two sets of binomials–one that was already printed and one blank one they had to fill in).  and every time they found a match they would bring it to me and I would move their bike.

I know this is probably not exciting for most people, but can I tell you how much joy it brings me to see my students actively learning?  like really trying?  it makes me so happy.  it makes all the hard parts worth it to see some of those students really trying to figure stuff out.  so that is what I will hold on to, when I feel like I can’t do it for one more day.  (or, five more days.  I can make it!)

I love my job.  I really, really do.  and I am so thankful to know that it’s where I’m supposed to be.  but.  sometimes, it is a lot.  this year has been hard.

I’m trying to be more aggressive about paying off my debt, so I’m trying to do what I can to make a little extra scratch.  my xc girls are trying to talk me into coaching track.  something to think about.

one road I haven’t really taken is to work for more professional development points.  lots of people do this, and it’s apparently not very hard to move on the salary schedule this way.  but have I told you?  that organization is not my strong suit?  that it is so hard for me?  and this would require a lot of organization?  so this scares me?

what I am getting at, is that it might be time for me to get my act together and get organized enough to keep a record of some goals with my job.

I always have goals with my job.  all the time, they are constantly in my mind.  it will just be hard to get organized.

but.  I am a little nervous.

because, the thing that I really, REALLY, REALLY REALLY need help with, is so……. hard, and personal.  and not, what I am guessing, the district and professional council have in mind, and want to approve for movement on the salary schedule.

how do I tell them?  how do I put it into words?

“I will love my kids less.”
“I will not take things personally.”
“I will not consider myself a failure when my kids hate me.”
“I will not let things get to me.”
“I will stop crying about things that are out of my control.”
“I will learn how to let the 100 good things outshine the 10 bad things.”
“I will be less emotional.”

so instead, I am leaning towards
“I will create a system for developing and evaluating problem-solving skills in lower-level classes.”

1.  the presidents!!!!  Carrie and I try so hard to learn about them.  we both have a hard time retaining anything but we try.  we do have flash cards, a laminated placemat hanging in our pantry, and a great puzzle my mom gave us (that also combines #2 below).  we have learned so many interesting things about them.  among them, that JFK was NOT the youngest president ever (just the youngest elected president ever), and guess who was?  Teddy Roosevelt!  can you believe it?  we were shocked.  I also love referring to the presidents with their first name and middle initial.  e. g. Chester A, Rutheford B, or James K.

2.  geography.  my geography classes at k-state were probably my favorite classes I took.  so fascinating.  goes with my love of travel.  last school year, when we had a bunch of snow days, I learned all the countries in europe and africa (with help from here).  I cannot tell you how much smarter I feel knowing all those countries.  you should learn them too, it really helps you get lots of stuff on jeopardy right.  you feel pretty legit when you know where eritrea and djibouti are.

3.  big cats.  did you know that jaguars are not normally black?  they can be, but only about 10% of them are.  most of them are tannish with black spots on them (but the spots are more like rings, so they are different from cheetahs & leopards).  also, did you know that the “puma” is not an actual type of big cat?  it is just a term that can refer to mountain lions or cougars.  so fascinating.

4.  Greenland.  oh my gosh, I love learning about Greenland.  did you know most scientists think it is actually 3 separate islands covered by one big ice sheet?  isn’t that crazy?  and, did you know that there is a university there, but it only has 150 students, because the government will pay for their residents to go to college anywhere in the US or UK?

5.  bananas.  did you know that bananas are radioactive?  that the potassium in them makes them glow under black lights when they are ripe? the banana tree is the largest flowering plant in the world.  India is the top banana producing country in the world, giving us about 26 million tons a year.  the most popular banana, the one we eat today, is called the cavendish banana, and it will only be around (at least in wide consumption) for another 20-30 years before they have to find a new kind for us to eat.  the seeds are too tiny to plant, and they lack genetic diversity, so they don’t have much lasting power.  don’t worry, they will replace it with another kind (but it probably won’t taste the same).  also, bananas are nutritionally similar to a potato.  aren’t bananas fascinating?  I have been teaching my students about them lately.  their favorite thing to hear about is that they also come in four colors (green, yellow, red & purple).  then I have to show them how to turn a banana into a dolphin.  and tell them “that’s what you learn in college.”

what else should I learn about?  I am so glad we live in an age where it is so easy to learn.  just today I learned that a handful of separate “sources” that “used to be employed” at area 51 have accounts of working with an alien named J-Rod.  apparently he was a big deal.

so, bonus time fun page, you are my favorite.  you make grading so much better.  you help me keep my sanity.
only one of my classes has taken this test yet, but man, they make me laugh so hard.

one of the questions is:

“Correctly fill in this saying:”
“___________  _____________  bring ____________  ______________.”

maybe you can guess what I was going for?
but here are some of the answers I’ve gotten so far.  my favorite is when they ignore the blanks and put two words in one spot.  is that not obvious?

go and bring me my honey.”

good attitude bring constant happyness.”

make money bring the stuff.”

you better bring it on.”

all to bring good fortune.”

Cat daddy bring the dougie-fresh.”

UPDATE:  here are additions from the other hour:

I will bring sexy back.”

Yo dawg, bring it in.”

Did you bring the gnome?”

I will bring the pancakes.”

I will bring the cheese.”

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