Year One

When Students Sext

I’m really nosy. When they text in class, I silently hover over them reading the message, trying to see who they’re texting. This is literally just who I am as a human and I have no excuse.

At Saturday school last weekend I was looking at the pictures on one of my favorites student’s phone. In the middle of scrolling through her selfies, she gets a text from another one of my favorite students. Like the weirdo I am, I open the message and respond to ask why he isn’t at school (because it’s technically mandatory for all my kids). While I wait for his response, I scroll up to read their conversation, because I am very strange person with no self control when it comes to snooping.

“If we were to make love, what would you do? Tell me details. 8-face-throwing-a-kiss

I DIE. That might not be an exact quote because I’m actively trying to forget it. I keep reading, again because I’m a horrible person. I’m going to spare y’all the details, because, yeah. No pictures though, PTL.

I panic. What am I supposed to do now? Do I pretend I didn’t see anything? Do I start screaming? The following is my account of what I did next. In retrospect, I’m pretty proud of myself. I did good. Self-five.

I text him back. “OMG I’m blinded don’t scroll up it’s not rated E for everyone” followed by a dozen of the monkey emoji covering its eyes. He responds with the laughing crying face and I tell him I can’t even and he changes the subject. He’ll get a lecture sometime this week.

However, after an hour of careful thought while the female student worked on ACT review, she got her lecture on Saturday.

I started off with the standard, “there better not be any pictures,” talk, followed by a definition of child pornography, and a promise of deletion. I then led into my real problem with their conversation – not her poor spelling, or the fact that it was happening at 3 a.m., or the aggressive use of emojis – but the fact that he didn’t respond. It took several hours for him to craft the lame “are you sure you’re ready for that” response that he sent. I have MASSIVE anxiety when someone takes more than 20 minutes to respond to a text that only says something dumb like “wanna order pizza”. I can’t imagine what kind of panic would be rushing through my brain if someone took more than 5 minutes to respond to a sext! (really I wouldn’t know as I don’t sext because all of the reasons ever).

So we talked about boys being assholes. I told her stories about boys inviting me to a party at 2 a.m. only to be found talking to another girl the whole time. We talked about booty calls and self esteem and why all boys insist on being douchebags. I promised her that somewhere out there there’s a boy who will make her feel special 24/7, not just for 30 minutes twice a week. I promised her that there was someone who would always respond to her texts. We talked about getting hurt, and how it’s really hard to say no. I got to use one of my favorite quotes from Perks of Being a Wallflower! I told her she could text me anytime and I would respond. I told her I thought she deserved better. I hope I helped.

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Year One

I don’t know about you

But being 22 is simultaneously the biggest strength and weakness I have in my classroom.

I’m technically 22 years old (well I’ll be 23 next week hint hint). However, I look like I’m 18, think like I’m 35, and tell jokes like a 16-year old boy. My attention span is only slightly longer than theirs, and when they curse in class I usually don’t even notice. Any mention of balls turns into a solid 5-minute diversion where I just try to come up with the best testicle joke possible. I make them watch TED talks and I make them discuss topics like race, privilege, and same-sex marriage like adults. I’m super excited to discuss Bruce Jenner next week. I blend in in the halls, and I’m mistaken for a student on field trips. One of my new favorite things to say is, “I’m an adult! I’m the grown-up in this situation! You can’t say that to me!”

It’s such a perk because it makes me relatable to them. I was in high school five years ago. My brother is still in high school. I know what it’s like to take the ACT because it feels like that was me just a few weeks ago. I’m incredibly familiar with the college application process. I know what the job market looks like right now. My students and I might come from drastically different backgrounds, but at the core, we’re the same generation. I am physically incapable of going 90 minutes without checking my phone – so I understand why they feel the need to whip out their phone in the middle of class. I can talk to them about that weird hook-up culture that has (so sadly) worked its way into high schools. They all want to follow me on Instagram, and it’s taking a lot of self-control to make them wait until they graduate. I relate the content to their lives, because otherwise I get bored teaching it. I throw in a #tbt photo every week because that’s how I make teaching fun for me, and that’s how class becomes interesting to them.

But at the same time, sometimes this means they don’t take me seriously. It makes it harder to earn respect from students, parents, and other teachers, just because I look, and often act, so young. I totally get it. I’d probably freak out too if I found out that my 17-year old was being taught by a 22-year old. I have to fight this weird uphill battle to be taken seriously. Yes, I want to play in class. I would so much rather tell penis jokes than teach you about the quadratic formula. But I have push you. I have to make you put your phone away. I have to make you learn because that’s why I’m here.

I don’t want to be the cool, young, hip teacher. I want to be the really cool, but also super inspirational teacher. I don’t want them to want to be my friend. I want them to want to be me (lol sorry that’s super self-centered but I think you get what I mean).

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Year One

TEDxYouth@ColumbiaSC

I took my kids to a TEDx conference on Saturday. It will probably be the highlight of my TFA experience.

We heard from 25 different speakers, from an inspirational 17-year-old to a 71-year-old man in a question mark suit.

We participated in an MP3 Experiment, played ninja, and wrote our plans to change the world on paper airplanes. We learned about failure, and personal branding, and competitive kayaking, and car design, and how to find your dream job. The boys all fell in love this woman when she sang, and the girls (okay maybe just me) drooled as this man explained how he comes up with his ideas. We laughed and laughed and laughed. We laughed at the people laughing at jokes that weren’t funny. We talked about the Smurfette Principle, and sky diving, and why girls should learn how to code and how to use a paper towel.

We’re having a group reflection session during lunch on Friday to discuss what ideas still resonate with us after the week. I promised them french fries and Oreo McFlurries. I can’t wait to hear what they think.

I might suck at teaching math, and I definitely said fuck you to a child (lovingly I swear), and I made a student yell penis inside Firehouse Subs, BUT at the end of the day twelve of my favorite students got this really cool and maybe even life changing experience because of their totally random and super strange 22-year old math teacher.

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Year One

The Hills Have i’s

I recently taught my Algebra II Honors students about complex/imaginary numbers (the square root of negative one). We seriously struggled to grasp the concept, so instead of just giving a test that everyone would fail, each student wrote a complex numbers children’s story. They had to build a story that somehow incorporated complex numbers.

The baseball player wrote about a game called “complex ball” where at each base he had to solve a math problem. The girl who wants to be an OB/GYN wrote about delivering complex number babies. One girl wrote about a girl, Jill, who had a crush on a boy, Jack, and so she asked him to help teach her complex numbers. One of my favorites was from a boy obsessed with Jordan’s, who replaced all the numbers in the problems with pictures of that edition of Jordan.


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I also required each of them to read their story to the class. There was a beautiful moment when one boy was standing at the front of the room, holding his book, waiting for everyone to be quiet so he could begin. Just as the classroom settles down, one of my favorites stands up, points to the reader’s crotch, and yells, “HE’S GOT SEMEN ON HIS PANTS!”

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