To the lesson itself, it was a Mathalicious day. You know, the one where we don't really start off with math, but with a conversation. Today's conversation was centered around an acceptable age range for people to date and using inequalities to represent the data. Because we only have one day for the lesson, it needed to be scaled down quite a bit. We started with a video of an 8 year-old walking with an 18 year-old, talking about how, as time goes on, their difference in age wouldn't be as creepy (leading us to believe that she had a crush on the older boy).
Our next step was to graph out the "half plus seven" rule. Students worked to plot the points and graph it out, only to hear that they were ALL WRONG. It's my fault, really, for not reminding them that their graph should start at 14 years. This was a good conversation about restrictors of functions and how they help us adequately define a legitemite range. Who wants their 4 year-old dating a 9 year-old? Not me, but let's stick to the math.
During this part of the lesson, we went back to the table and discussed that there must be some sort of lid we can put on the ages to make them reasonable, so that Great Great Great Great Grandpa Stevens isn't dating someone who just turned 28... or 40... or 90 (Ewwwwww).
Students had a chance to graph the second portion of the dating scenario that would give them a range of acceptable dating ages and this was quite the struggle. y <= 2x - 14 being graphed was tough because, in part, the graph paper didn't go below zero. Plus, it just didn't make sense. This part was alright by me because it invited good conversation. We built the y-axis down to -20, plotted the y-intercept, and students took off from there with the graphing. For the most part, kids were able to get into the lesson without too many complications.
Naturally, I have a great deal of respect for what teachers do on a regular basis, but something changes when you're in charge of the class for a full day. I've observed plenty of teachers in the role that I now have, and it's easy to sit back and "sofa coach" them, critiquing what I would've done differently. Now, this was my class for the day. Ms. Depweg was there the entire day, but I was in charge. Before the day began, I was told that the kids were outstanding yesterday. Y'know what that means?
I loved that the kids were true to their form today and not the angels they were yesterday for her. She got the chance to see me struggle with the same students and scenarios that she deals with. More importantly, she got the chance to see her class from a different perspective and realize that she is doing a good job with the kids she has. This is a more important piece that a lot of teachers never get the chance to experience, only comparing their stories to the stories of their peers' experiences in the staff room during lunch.
Grab your shovel; it's time to dig into some of those kids I encountered today:
There was Kristoff, a student who is constantly out of his seat, plays the "why you gotta pick on me" card often, and riles up his colleagues.
There was Olaf, a student who habitually hangs her head to avoid being called on because she just. doesn't. get. it.
There was Anna, a student who is socially awkward, kind of the self-acclaimed teacher's pet, who loves sharing out her full response as if it were a dissertation defense.
There was Elsa, a student who is normally engaged, but had her head on the desk, headphones in, and just didn't want to be a part of the world she was surrounded by today.
Aside from the blatant change of names, all 4 of these things happened today. And more. It was a real day of school, giving me a nice shot in the arm of the respect that I need to constantly have for the difficult job that teachers take on. Afterwards, Ms. Depweg and I talked about how to deal with, or help, these students and others who so desperately need it. As a technology coach, as a human being, I felt like I let her down by saying "I don't know". The sad part is, it's the truth.
It's funny to tell teachers that I'm going back to the classroom to teach a lesson. They look at me crazy and ask why, tell me good luck (because I'll need it), tell me I'm crazy, and a myriad of other responses, mostly neutral or negative. I don't think that this is a red mark on the teacher's perspective of their profession, but more of a reason to respect them even more. We don't truly appreciate the work that teachers like Ms. Depweg and others around the world who give everything they have for more than 180 days a year.
Thank you to Ms. Depweg for allowing me the opportunity to come in and hang out with your class. You gave me a refresher of why the career I have chosen has been worth the time and effort that it has taken. Thank you to Karim and the Mathalicious team for creating lessons that are more than just Real World - they are interesting. I got to go in and talk to kids about dating. In a math class.
One more student that I miss oh-so-much:
There was Kai, a student who greeted me right away by name, clearly not one of "the cool kids" by his peer's standards, but was so willing to make me feel welcome. He was respectful, asked about me, and genuinely engaged in the activity. As I was leaving the school for the day to return to my job of supporting teachers and away from the classroom, I was given the best parting gift I could've asked for. "Hey Mr. Stevens, thanks for being in our class today. Have a great day"
Happy "Getting Maybe Just One More Kid To Care" Fishing