So Long, Sweet Summer

As a teacher, summer has been over for about a month now. As a human being (and according to the calendar), the curtains of summer are drawing closed this Thursday.

Either way, I have some thoughts to share as the transition from summer freedom to autumnal mayhem continues to build (or begins, depending on which way you look at it).

This summer was great. I accomplished a lot what I set out to do (as seen here) such as traveling, developing my Stats course, taking pictures, and working out consistently.

This summer, I fell in love with lifting free weights. It was scary in the beginning as the free weights area is typically 95% dudes. But I love the freedom that it offers; I can do so many things with a set of dumbbells versus only being able to do one exercise at a time on the machines.

I got to travel quite a bit this summer, too. I began the summer going home to Western NY for our friends’ wedding and to see friends and family, then I went to the Poconos with my high school friends in July, and then Tom and I went to Virginia to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary all in one trip. We also spent the last couple weeks out with my in-laws in Long Island which is totally traveling and feels like a vacation. I went to the beach a couple times and hung out with friends quite a bit. [Check out my Instagram for pictures]

Volleyball started the day after my birthday and by then I was really excited to get back into having a set daily routine. The following week was the start of teacher meetings and classroom setup. I had been in my school at least 10 times over the summer to get work done, so it kind of felt as if I had never left. We then had students the week of Labor Day and that was a rush of stress and excitement for sure.

The following week (last week), we had 2 days of school and then we went on our annual retreat with all of the students. In past years, the 9th and 10th graders went to a Quaker conference and retreat center 3 hours north of the city while the 11th and 12th graders went to a summer camp 2 hours north of the city. My first year teaching at my school, I went with the upperclassmen, and last year I went with the lowerclassmen, so I had been to both places and had my opinions about both.

Last year, we all realized that there was no way we could continue going to the 9/10th retreat center because we just had too many people squeezing into the place. I was in a committee meant to plan the retreat and we decided that all four grades would go to the summer camp this year. I was pumped. I loved my experience at the summer camp and couldn’t wait to go back.

And this year’s retreat didn’t disappoint. It was frustrating and exhausting at times, don’t get me wrong; teachers spending 2.5 days with their students is not a bed of roses. But this place made for such an amazing time; from the ropes courses and the various sports courts/areas, to the delicious (in comparison to the retreat center) food, to the beautiful weather, and of course just being in nature, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait for next year’s retreat.

Retreat 2016
                               Post sunset first night; Sunrise second morning

This weekend was spent recuperating, catching up on sleep and alone time (with the exception of Tom), and preparing myself mentally and physically for the first full week of school. Not only do we have classes all 5 days (haha that sounds so dramatic but the past 2 non-full weeks have left me feeling totally wiped out) and I have 3 volleyball games to coach.

And as I’m sitting here writing this, I am in awe of how I am less anxious and worried about everything than I usually am this time of year. I tend to go through major problems this time of year: both of my Crohn’s flare-ups happened during this time of year, I went to a doctor for anxiety and sleep problems 2 years ago (my first year teaching full-time), and I just tend to have a low self-esteem regarding my teaching abilities and an overall low sense of self-worth during this time of year. It’s a lot, all at once, and I get a little [read: very] emotional when I’m tired.

And yet, here I am, feeling capable and ready to take on this week. I think it helps that I have become accustomed to working a bit on weekends: I have grown to like going to Starbucks for a few hours on Sunday mornings to get ready for the week and set my mind at ease while enjoying a PSL and a bagel.

>>Side note: I’m reading a book for school called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do and it’s all about stereotype threat. While in line getting ready to order, I realized that I was feeding a stereotype threat as a white female ordering a PSL. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t order it because that would make others confirm said stereotype…but I didn’t care and ordered it anyway.<<

I hope to continue on with this feeling and not wake up at 2 a.m. with overwhelming anxiety such that I cannot fully fall back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. It happens sometimes.

I hope to continue to pump myself up and stay on top of things to aide in this general feeling of well-being and happiness.

I hope to continue making gainz in the gym and make it a priority even with school. I didn’t go at all this weekend because I pulled a back muscle (are you ready for this?) while pulling my shirt over my head to get dressed on the last day of the retreat.

Yeah. It’s embarrassing. I was up a bit early, getting ready for a morning run with the cross country team, and as I was pulling my shirt over my head, I felt a sharp pain, couldn’t breathe fully, and couldn’t move or find a comfortable position. I ditched the run, took some Aleve, and am still feeling a bit sore in that spot tonight. I’ll blame it on the uncomfortable mattress in the bunk and on playing tennis without warming up first. Getting dressed must’ve just exacerbated it.

So anyways, I hope you’re soaking up the last bits of summer (although, according to weather reports, we’ll be enjoying summer weather for at least another 2 weeks) and have a good transition to fall and all that it offers. Cooler weather. Sweaters. Boots. Excitement for the upcoming holidays. And pumpkin everything.

Things I want to accomplish this summer…

As a teacher, I have the privilege of having 2 months off from work (in theory) while still getting paid. While this is true, we are usually doing school-related work over the summer months to prepare for the school year and the lack of time we will have between September and the following June.

Although I want to relax as much as possible and don’t want to work anywhere near 8 hours per day for the next 2 months, there are a few things that I definitely need/want to accomplish over the next 60 days.

  • Create a really great Statistics course – it is not only a new course for me but is also new for our school and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
  • Learn ASL – my work friends agreed to teach me in return for some food and beverages.
  • Relearn Calculus – although I won’t be teaching it, I would like to re-explore and remind myself of the concepts.
  • Develop/explore projects for my classes – Students love projects and I love projects, so if I can find some really great and applicable projects, that would be a win-win!
  • Read a whole lot – I have a whole shelf’s worth of books in my apartment that I have yet to read and would like to do so this summer.
  • Exercise at least 4 days every week – since I spent the majority of last summer on the couch recovering from surgery, I want to up my fitness levels and spend very little time on any couches.
  • Spend a ton of time outside – walking, sitting, eating, running, etc.
  • See all the people I love – work friends, school friends, family, etc.
  • Explore NYC
  • Volunteer – Last summer I volunteered with BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition) and walked two of their shelter dogs and had a blast. Granted, this happened on the hottest day (it was well over 90°) but it not only helped a community in need, but I got the chance to hang out with cute animals and get some exercise!
  • Continue the Uncharted series – I got all four games a couple weekends ago and just finished the first game of the series. I really like it although there were times that stressed me out so much! That’s how most video games affect me, though; I get better as I get used to the game, but for awhile I am a giant stressball.
  • Take tons of pictures – I want this to be a memorable summer.
  • Travel – We’re going upstate for our friends’ wedding and I’ll be staying a bit longer to see friends and family back home. In August, a group of my high school girlfriends and I are heading to the Poconos for a girls’ weekend getaway. Tom and I are also trying for a trip to the Dominican Republic in August.

Are there any activities/experiences you would suggest or that you hope to accomplish this summer?

First Year Teacher: Final Exams Week

Last week was the week. The week that all of my and my students’ hard (and, in some cases, not so hard) work has built up to. The week where we get a sense of just how well I taught  and how much knowledge I was able to pass on to them.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think tests are the end-all-be-all to establishing good teachers (take that government officials who think they can rule classrooms without having stepped foot inside them) but they are one of many ways to see how much a student has learned over the past 8 months.

As a first year teacher, this year has been crazy. I’ve been going day-by-day in lesson creating; I know I could try to plan a week at a time or something, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I work better under pressure and end up with better ideas at the last minute. Not totally last minute since sometimes [read: most times] that’s irresponsible and dangerous, but I just can’t plan so far ahead.

Two weeks ago, both of my Algebra classes finished and took a unit test on their last unit of the year. I then had to kick it into high gear and create review packets that would cover the entire year! I ended up taking my review packets from all of the units and just copied and pasted the problems I felt should be included on the final into a new document. Of course I changed numbers and took out those problems I thought weren’t as essential but it was no easy feat. I made two different versions for my Algebra I students based on their learning levels. Plus the Algebra II and Math in Everyday Life packets as well.

And as accomplished as I felt once those were all typed up, I then had to print each, make multiple copies, create a key for each, and then go through the packet once students had a couple class days to go through and complete them.

So last Wednesday was the day Math finals were to be given/taken. And although I’d like to think I looked calm, cool, and collected the entire time, I was probably more nervous than the kids. All of us Math teachers were scrambling during lunch to make sure we all had enough calculators and rulers for each of our students, so the meal was kind of rushed and not really enjoyed.

Overall, I think it went fine. The students that asked for the most help were students I expected to do so, and I’m so glad they reached out and weren’t afraid to ask. Usually if I gave them a slight hint, they would go “ooh” and know exactly what to do from there. I don’t think I stopped running between two of my five designated classrooms full of students over the entire 2 hour period of time before students could leave. But it was totally worth it because I know they felt much better to have finished one more exam (Math was fourth out of the five main subjects, so they had already taken three exams over the course of two days).

I have finished grading all three exams and I’m so proud of my students. Although no one received 100%, all classes averaged in the B range and I know (most) of them will be ecstatic to see those grades.

So yeah, overall, this experience has been stressful to say the least. But I still feel so lucky to be where I am, teaching the awesome kids that I teach, sharing my knowledge of math and life with them while they keep me young(ish) and smiling (most of the time).

To end this post, here’s a picture I took of my white board. My Math in Everyday Life students took their exam in my room; once they all finished their tests and before they could leave the school, they created these pictures. I didn’t get a chance to see them before they left, but when I walked into my classroom after the whirlwind that was My First Math Final as a teacher, I was instantly smiling. I honestly started to get a bit emotional (I know, I know, get a grip Holliday!).

 These kids have been so great this year and they actually like me (and are weirdly obsessed with my husband, Tom haha). And most of them think I’m a good teacher and that I’m nice without trying to take advantage because they know I’ll lay down the law if I have to. Like, seriously, I could not have asked for a better first year of teaching. I know it’s not “technically” over just yet – we still have until next Friday with students and then until the Friday after that (the 19th) with faculty meetings – but it’s just about there.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, believe me, but I know it could have been much worse. I’m grateful for my first year teaching, my incredible co-workers, my awesome students, my husband and his family for putting up with my complaints, and my mom for telling me that she’s proud of me and happy that I found a job that I love at a place that I love. And giving birth to me – thanks, Mom!

On that note, I’m gonna go. I need a tissue or two. Happy Almost Summer Vacation!

In my classroom: Five days until finals

When this blog goes up, Tom and I will be participating in the Color Run 5K in Queens. Honestly I’m not feeling it at the moment (T-11 hours until it starts…no turning back!), but I’m excited because a bunch of my teacher friends will be doing it and a few more will be cheering on the sidelines. And then we’ll hang out and chill (literally, as in icing our sore, out of shape bodies) for a while after the race. Here’s Tom and I at our first and only other 5K two summers ago!

5k

Anyways, a consensus of students and teachers at our school [and probably any school in America] would say that the past two weeks were hell-a long. They’ve been stressful and busy and long and…well, I mean, that’s typical for teachers at the end of May with final exams and reports coming up. We are down to 5 school days until final exams start. Like, what?!?!?!?

Last week, my Algebra I class continued with linear functions, focusing on figuring out if a point lies on a given line and finding the equation of line given the slope and a point on the line. This past week, we found where lines intersect (AKA solving systems of linear equations) by graphing and by substitution. They took the unit test on Thursday, and we started reviewing for the final exam on Friday.

I was so relieved when I finished creating, printing, and copying review sheets for both of my Algebra classes because that meant I was set for the next week. It also means that I have a pretty decent foundation to create the final exams. This week will be devoted to reviewing/studying for the final, so it’s pretty much just autopilot from here on out.

For Algebra II, I’m really happy to be able to say that my students have been using trig functions (all 3!) to find a missing side and a missing angle. I originally was only going to cover sine with them, but once we did some problems together, they told me that it was really easy. So we then worked through cosine and tangent problems and they have been doing so well. We even did some word problems with trig functions (you know, the shadow of a pole is this long and the angle between the ground and the top of the pole is the much, find how tall the pole is…). We also learned the Law of Sines because they were doing so well.

They took their unit test on Wednesday and we started reviewing for the final exam on Friday. Except they’re all seniors except for one and they seem to have checked out, so not much was accomplished during the last period on Friday. Oh well, I see them all 5 days until the final exam, so I think we’ll be okay.

Math in Everyday Life has been heavily focused on finding tax (we stick to 10%) and the total amount of a purchase with tax included. We’ll be reviewing in that class too so they feel comfortable going into their final exam.

Over the past 2 weeks, we had a Performing Arts Night and the school musical (it was Annie this year and the students did phenomenally!), I judged the middle school science fair, I attended a professional development conference in Times Square, and Mary and I have worked out four out of the five school days both weeks. Yeah!

As much as I’m looking forward to the end of the school year, the end of the stress that is at its peak this time of year for teachers, I will miss the routine and the people I get to see and interact with every day. It’s so convenient and easy to see these people I care about because we’re all under the same roof for 8+ hours everyday and we’re all dealing with similar issues. So as much as I’m feeling overwhelmed and can’t wait for June 19th (official last day for faculty), I plan on enjoying and savoring these next 3 weeks before people start scattering for the summer, some to return in the fall and others who will begin new adventures elsewhere.

In my classroom: Counting down and toning up (and I’m almost 40?)

This week was low-key because the majority of the freshmen were gone for most of the week. It was also weird because Tom was also gone for the majority of the week. And what’s funny is that both the freshmen and Tom were in Europe – students were in Berlin and Paris, Tom was in Brussels.

I also realized that we are down to 26 school days left until finals start. Twenty. Six Days. Sure, with finals and stuff, there are 33 or so school days, but still. That’s crazy! My first year teaching is coming to a close!

Spongebob Squarepants marching band celebrating

You know what else is crazy? I had an interesting and hilarious conversation with one of my students about my age. Now, if you know me, you’ll know that for years I’ve had people think I was still in high school based on my looks. Since September, one of my junior boys has commented on how young I seem, how it feels like I’m his age, and how it’s weird that I’m married already. But this week, another student (a sophomore boy) actually thought I was a lot older.

It all started when he was playing a hip-hop song from the 90s that everyone has heard before, but I have never actually heard the song in its entirety – I only know the chorus. So he started playing another song – ‘Jump’ by Kris Kross – and said that if I didn’t know this song, I was definitely not a 90’s kid. I told him I knew it, but I was still pretty young in the 90s.

“Come on, what were you doing in 1993?” he asked, thinking I’d say I was in high school.
“I was four years old; I was born in 1989.” I responded.
“What?! I thought you were born in the 70s! I thought you went to Woodstock and stuff,” he said while laughing. Obviously this kid was joking about Woodstock (I hope…I told him that it was in 1969) but even if I was born in the 70s, I would be pushing 40 by now.
So I said, “Oh? I’m sure you also think I fought in World War II, then?” He just laughed and could not believe I was only 25.

It was so ridiculous. Then he showed me this video of a guy who actually thinks he can sing and dance and things got even more hilarious. Fair warning: it’s painful. Yikes.

So my Algebra I class finished up their ethnic statistics projects on Wednesday – the four of them each presented their projects and the information that they found during research. When the freshmen came back on Thursday, we began our linear functions unit by taking the unit pre-test. We then began the unit by talking about coordinate points, how to write them, plotting given coordinate points, and identifying what a given point was.

My Algebra II class finished up our absolute value unit and will begin reviewing for a test this coming up week. I’m thinking our last unit is going to be trig – we’ll go back to the Pythagorean Theorem, then talk about finding missing angles using trig functions, etc.

Finally, my Math In Everyday Life class worked on giving directions given a map. I screenshotted an image of Google Maps that showed directions from school to a local supermarket and also to a subway station. We then tested their directions and how well they did by following their instructions and seeing if we made it to the store correctly. They’ve realized that they need to be more specific, use left/right instructions, and also use street names. We also continued working on number bonds and they’ve gotten SOOOO much better and faster at identifying the number bond of a given number.

One of the highlights of my week (aside from Tom returning Friday from Europe!) has been that I worked out four times after school. This is actually the second week in a row that Mary and I have done it successfully! And it feels great! I’m so happy that I have a co-worker that I can work out with and trust to push me while also pushing her. We have our set routine, but this week we switched it up by trying a Tone It Up High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) video.

And it kicked our butts. And thighs. And shoulders. And while we complain a whole lot afterward (and sometimes during) workouts, we still keep it up. We’ve both noticed a huge difference in the way we feel and look since we’ve switched from the elliptical to the treadmill, doing speed intervals for 20-30 minutes (level 11, baby!!), so it makes all the pain worth it. Here’s to another four days this coming week!

But first, a relaxing weekend with my husband…cheers!

In My Classroom: Exciting News + Museum Trips

First off, happy weekend!!!! I hope everyone got a restful sleep last night and slept in this Saturday morning. Even just 5 minutes later than weekday wake-up time. Take what you can get!

Let’s start off with the good news: I recently found out that I will be teaching Math classes full-time next year! After teaching 3 of my own Math and co-teaching 2 Chemistry classes, I’m SO ready to be teaching all Math, all the time. I mean, I went to school for Math and that’s my end goal, so I’M PUMPED!!!

This week has been strange because the majority of our freshmen and a few of our faculty are off on the yearly trip to Europe. My wing of the school is super quiet because the teachers next to me are on the trip, and the students that usually walk past my door aren’t around. It’s been kind of lonely, but also very peaceful.

On Tuesday, my co-worker and I took the remaining six freshmen plus two other students to the NYC Transit Museum. It was my second time there and it was much more enjoyable this time around. The students had a blast sitting in the old train cars, playing with the different interactives, and just being out of school for an hour or two. I got a lot of great pictures and the kids enjoyed themselves so much.

Check out some of the old ads that used to be in the cars. My, how times have changed! Or maybe not: ’84 out of 100 women prefer men who wear hats’.

Subway ads

And then there are these ones that have just been aesthetically changed. I see the ones on the right everyday, but look at how far they’ve come from the 50s and 60s! Although, it seems as if people have not changed…

Subway ads 2

Also, did you know we used to have a ‘GG’, ‘LL’, and ‘KK’ train? A lot of the double letters were dropped, so we have a G train and an L train, but we don’t have a K train at all. And, look: an H train!

H Train

Anyways, my Algebra I class went from nine students to four with the freshmen gone. On Wednesday, I gave the remaining students a project about their ethnic backgrounds. They are to choose a country of their ancestry to research, create a poster, and present to the class (of four). The project focuses on the statistics of a country (such as population, economy, and climate) but they have the freedom to include some history, pictures, personal stories of visits to their countries, etc. The students seemed really interested in the project, got right to work on their computers, and worked quietly the entire rest of the class! It was fantastic!

My Algebra II students made the connection for transformations of a graph (in this case, absolute value functions) when a constant is added or subtracted within the function or outside the function. It was great. I used Desmos graphing calculator to allow them to see the graphs and make the connections, so they were a lot more receptive seeing as they’ve already graphed a bunch of functions and disliked it a lot.

I’ve decided to begin a “reading maps and giving/receiving directions” unit for my MIEL class. I started by getting them to write down directions from my classroom to the lobby. As they read their directions to me and I followed, they quickly realized that their directions weren’t as clear, specific, and thorough as they needed to be. We will work on that!

Yesterday (TGIF!!!) I joined my co-worker to take the small group of “left behind” freshmen to the American Museum of Natural History. We ended up with only five freshmen boys on our trip. Due to an “investigation” up in the 100s of Manhattan, we ended up taking 3 different trains to get there when it should’ve just been a straight shot on the C train. We missed our original exhibit time, but they ended up giving us tickets for a later time, so it worked out fine.

We ate lunch around noon outside, looking over the planetarium. I had some funny conversations with a couple of the boys, including them asking me about if I use social media and if what they were saying would be shared with anyone. I told them if it was funny or interesting enough, then maybe. And if it was ever about anyone getting hurt (hurting themselves, hurting another person, another person hurting himself or herself) then I would be obligated to share it with someone at school. Luckily, it was only the silly social media commentary, so that’s okay.

After lunch, we went to a 3D movie about a chipmunk in the forest and a grasshopper/scorpion mouse in the desert and all of the predators and harsh conditions they have to endure to survive. No cute, furry creatures were killed during the movie (thank goodness) but I can’t say the same for the scorpion (good riddance).

 I was so exhausted by the time we got on the subway for the trip back to school. And I went right home after school because this week kicked my butt. Even though it felt pretty low-key with the freshmen gone and the weather getting nicer, I worked out FOUR DAYS IN A ROW this week (high-five Mary!) and have started coming down with a cold or something, so sleep has been pretty sucky too. Here’s to a restful (and apparently gorgeous weather-wise) weekend!

Writing Teacher Reflections

I started reflecting on my teaching (and school days in general) back in November. Two of my coworkers and I went to a professional development seminar at a Day School in Manhattan to hear Rick Lavoie speak. This guy is awesome. After spending the day listening to his stories (both humorous and heart-breaking), my colleagues and I agreed that we would love to have him speak at our school because it would benefit our K-12 faculty a lot.

Long story short: Rick served as an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs for 30 years. This experience has provided him with a “living laboratory” in which he developed and refined his methods and philosophies related to the education of children and adolescents with special needs. He has now delivered his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Rick’s main focus for this day was Strategies that work (and those that don’t) with struggling kids. I have 4 pages worth of notes from his presentation and still remember how much of a story-teller he was. Anyways, some of his strategies were…

One that I personally liked that would benefit my students and myself was the one where I would write daily reflections. His story for this strategy was that a teacher came to him for help because one student (student A) would come to her English class some days and be completely off the handle. There wasn’t a pattern that the teacher could notice – it wasn’t during certain times of the day (the schedule was the same every day) so it wasn’t that he just had a candy bar for lunch or anything like that.

The teacher started writing daily reflections in hopes that this might show a pattern, but no pattern seemed to come out of it. However, when Rick checked out the reflections and compared the days where the student was especially a handful, he realized that another student was absent on those days. It turns out that the two boys were partners in Science, the class right before English. They were in the dissection unit and student A hated dissecting things, so he always relied on student B to dissect while he took notes. On the days where student B was absent, the teacher forced student A to perform the dissections himself and it caused him to get really anxious and it would throw off his mood into the next class – English.

How cool is that? That you can find a pattern from just a reflection and note of who was absent a certain day!

It’s difficult to remember to do it daily seeing as my free-time and prep periods go to (duh) prepping. Or talking to and/or venting with co-workers. But it’s so helpful and calming, especially when it’s been a particularly difficult or stressful day. I recommend teachers try it out, recording positive and negative interactions between students, their own interactions with students, and how their lessons went.

The reflections don’t have to be essays or epic sagas; it’s actually better to keep them as bullet points: short and sweet. Who was absent? What was the lesson on? How did it go? Is there anything you will change the next time you teach it? What are some positive or negative interactions that occurred during the class?

In my classroom: Ultimate Pi Day Week

As I write this, I am officially on spring break. That’s right, I don’t have to work for 2 weeks. Although, teachers’ work is honestly never done. I don’t just say that to sound philosophical or righteous. I say it because it’s 100% true.

During these 2 weeks, I will be entering grades and writing some comments about said grades for upcoming third quarter reports because they are due the Monday we come back from said break. I will be planning lessons that I will teach the week we return. I will be looking through student outlines about organic compounds for Chemistry. I will be grading a recent test I gave my Algebra I students. And so on, and so forth.

Then again, I don’t have to go to school for 2 weeks. As mentioned in my last post, I will be going out to Long Island today to see my in-laws and Tom’s cat, Finster. And that’s only for a couple days, which leaves me with a whole bunch of time to do whatever I want!

Finster and Holliday

Backing up, though, let’s talk about this week…

Monday was long. I was at school for 13 hours straight because we had an inaugural Language Festival at 7pm. It was fantastic. Students in Spanish and ASL (American Sign Language) classes prepared skits, stories, and songs via real-life interactions, videos, and writings. They did great and it was wonderful seeing our students do such awesome work. Great job Language Department!

That day I had started reviewing with Algebra I students for the functions unit and continued reviewing with Algebra II students for the linear inequalities unit. My plan, as long as everything went smoothly, was to give my Algebra I class their test on Friday (I know, awful teacher giving a test on the Friday before break) and to give my Algebra II class a take-home test to do over break (again, awful).

BUT Algebra I students were totally understanding, especially since they had a long period on Friday, so of course it wouldn’t take the entire 70 minutes, and once they all finished we would just relax on the day before spring break. And Algebra II students appreciated the ability to use notes (no classmates, other adults, or the internet) for this test because some of the material was very difficult.

So there.

Tuesday was fine, more review for those two classes, and I kept going with number bonds in MIEL. Everyone in the Math department met during lunch and we started really getting down and dirty with the logistics of our inaugural Pi Day celebration. We started planning a while ago, but this week was crunch time. We began delegating tasks, getting the big picture taken care of, and started getting some details worked out.

Wednesday: again, more review, more number bonds, and more meeting during lunch with Math department folk. Excitement was building – not only for spring break, but also for our Pi Day plans! I sent out an email to students about becoming Pi Day pie judges – it would cost $3 to be a judge and it would be a first come/pay, first served basis.

Thursday: you guessed it; reviewing and reviewing and number bonds. Thursday was our regularly scheduled time to meet during lunch as a department, so we figured we would get the rest of the details taken care of and be all set for the next day. But, instead, it turned into a meeting about next year’s classes and how many of each section would have to be created based on how many students would be going into each level of math. Something pretty shocking and bothersome came up about my schedule for next year, so that kind of threw off the rest of my day.

We ended up meeting again right after school to make last-minute plans before Friday came around, and we each had a job to do. We needed materials for pies to be thrown at teachers, we needed a plan for the pie-tasting competition, we needed some emails sent out, and we all needed to create our page of math tasks for each of our math classes. That night, I created my “Pi Day tasks” sheets, and baked two pies – pumpkin and pumpkin chocolate chip. I was super unsure about how they turned out because the filling seemed runnier than I remember it being when I made it with Mom as a kid. Hopefully that meant it would be more (ew) moist?

Friday: THE BIG DAY! I was so excited to see my Pi Day t-shirt in my mailbox, just in time for the festivities. Unfortunately, Friday was so nuts, I don’t have any pictures of said shirt! All of the math teachers either bought or made a shirt for the day, but I don’t think we got a picture of us at all! Sad.

Anyways, for my classes, Algebra I students took their test and we ended up with about 15 minutes left in the class, so we played “Man in a box”, the Quaker version of Hangman. They all seemed pretty confident, so we’ll see when I actually start grading them! Algebra II was really chill, even though we went through two word problems dealing with systems of linear inequalities to prepare them for the take-home exam. We had a few minutes left after we finished, so we watched “Mean Tweets” videos on YouTube.

MIEL students worked on more number bonds and then we went on a walk and talked about our spring break plans. My next period (time before lunch) I had a free/planning period, so I was racing around the school collecting pies people had baked so that I could set up the pie sale in the kitchen/cafeteria. We had a great spread – (from bottom L to R) chocolate cherry, pumpkin and pumpkin chocolate chip; (top L to R) a mixed berry yogurt-y one with a lemon-y crust on top (student-made), apple, black-bottom oatmeal, and another apple.

Students had been informed about this since the beginning of the week, so they were aware that if they wanted a slice of pie, it would cost them $3. In the email I sent out, it said each slice would be $3.14, but we would give them a discount for Pi Day and give it to them for $3. All money raised was going to an organization our school has been raising money for since February – Red Hook Rise. “Its mission is to provide sports, educational and physical fitness programs that empower and educate youth.”

Pies pies pies pies pies

So we had a lot of students come during lunch to buy pies, and thank goodness my colleague Jen came down to help because it was insanity with cutting and serving and taking money and explaining all the pies and preparing the plates for the judging later on. Overall, it was a success.

I missed most of my next period co-teaching because I was cleaning up and then was seeking a colleague’s advice on the situation that had come up during our math department meeting the previous day. I’m not going to lie, there were tears. As of right now, I’m hopeful that the situation will be worked out. Fingers, and toes, and legs, and eyeballs crossed.

THEN. IT WAS PI DAY TIME!!!! For those of you who have made it this far, thank you! Glad you made it! I would offer you a cup of coffee or tea, but this feature of teleportation is not possible. Yet. If you’re confused on what Pi Day is, let me briefly enlighten you. If you recall from your days of high school (and maybe even middle school) math classes, you may recall the number π (pi). It is an irrational number, meaning it is a decimal that goes on and on and on forever and ever without repeating. It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference and its diameter (circumference ÷ diameter) and there are a few fractional estimations, but they match up with a minute number of decimal places.

π = 3.141592653… Mathematicians (and now computers) have been able to calculate pi to trillions of decimal places. Every year, March 14 is considered Pi Day because March 14 = 3/14 is like 3.14. This year (technically today, Saturday, but obviously we had to do it Friday) was Ultimate Pi Day because not only would it be 3/14, it would be 3/14/15. And going further, at 9:26:53, it would be the absolute ultimate time on the ultimate day of pi. This exact sequence of this date and time will not occur again for 100 years. It is a once in a lifetime thing!

Now, going back to Friday, I ran down to the gym because I was one of the MCs. Once everyone came down, I began explaining to everyone what they would be required to do. They were to get into their math class groups and find the teacher they were assigned to. That teacher would have a folder with their tasks in it, so they were to complete as many of the tasks as possible in order to possibly pie a teacher. The teacher had an answer key but could not give them any help other than to tell them whether their answers were correct or not.

During the 10-15 minutes that they were all solving their problems, the math teachers set up the pie-ing station. We laid a plastic covering on the gym floor and started filling empty pie tins with Cool Whip. I also cut in every few minutes with a corny math joke to keep people entertained. Students started filing back in the gym, having answered the questions and/or realizing time was up. Then the pie-ing began.

Five of us teachers signed up to be pied – me, John (another math teacher), Vicki (Spanish), Will (music), and Kirk (Director/Principal). Three ponchos had been made out of some more plastic sheeting, so we took turns – John, Vicki, and Will stood in for 3 rounds of pie-ing, and then Kirk and I switched in and endured 4 rounds of pie-ing.

There were plenty of pictures and videos taken during this time, so here are just a few…

This first picture is a prologue to the video that comes next…

John in waiting

This first video is from Sue who got an amazing shot IN SLOW MOTION!!! This video shows John getting a pie straight in his face. This is actually round 3 I think, so this is the first pie that actually made it right on one of their faces.

 Thanks to Jeannine for the following picture of students who are totally ready to pie us:

Determination and Fear

And this one. It’s a gif, so you have to click on it for the full experience. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Pi Day gif - fear relief pie

This video was submitted by a student and it shows the two pie-ers totally cheating by coming right up to Kirk and I with their pies. This was the last (thank goodness) round of pies, so it ended on a messy note.

As we were cleaning up, students made an announcement about student government. I ended up getting a total of 8 students that signed up and paid to judge the pie-eating competition, so during this time those students tasted the pies and voted on their favorite. And guess who won? My pumpkin chocolate chip!!! Woot! I had whipped cream in my hair and on my clothes (and in my nose from that last pie) but I didn’t care.

Everything went as planned, although it was a bit hairy the entire time with last-minute hiccups, but it was a blast. Messy, yes, but the students and teachers alike enjoyed every second of it. Plus, we ended up raising about $80 for RHR! Not bad, not bad at all.

Overall, this week was beyond overwhelming, beyond stressful, but beyond fun, exciting, rewarding, and tasty (I got to eat a lot of pie and whipped cream). I have the best crew of teachers to work with and the best students to be pied by…although some of them are total cheaters. Now I’m off to go do anything I want for 2 weeks!!!!!