Why I’m not writing

…to be honest, I’m not completely sure. I love blogging, sharing my classroom and thoughts on education, participating in the online community that virtual though it may be also nourishes my professional soul.

But then again, I know the reasons.  High drama at home, medical issues, making myself too busy for one more year, and a gnawing professional dissatisfaction for which I cannot envision a solution. Yet. (It’s the magic word in the classroom, isn’t it?)

I’m writing this post mostly for myself, to catalogue what is going well, and what isn’t, what I’m doing to help myself and my students, and what I could be doing as well (in those copious moments of free time between midnight and 5 a.m.).

What’s been going well in my classes this semester:

  • better questioning, by both me and the students
  • more use of whiteboards, vertical and otherwise
  • more open-ended classwork
  • stand and talks
  • Beyond White Dudes bulletin board
  • Introduction to Python

    Jojocodes

    Python is so easy even Jojo can code!

  • student connections – I do enjoy those kiddies; they make it okay to get up at 5:20 a.m.

What’s not so great:

  1. I haven’t figured out how to effectively engage teenagers with Algebra 2  at 7:15 a.m. (As I type this, I’m thinking, seriously?  Who thought that was a good idea?)
  2. I’ve got low participation in some classes despite my efforts to randomize questioning, intrigue and engage.
  3. On exams and homework, I have come across some pretty nasty cheating and copying (curse you, Photomath!).
  4.  I feel increasingly constricted by the all-hallowed Pacing Calendar which prevents inquiry-based activities and by which I am continually judged.
  5. I also feel increasingly frustrated with administrative shunting aside of students and refusal to increase advanced offerings to all programs.
  6. As a result of #4 and#5, I am feeling ineffectual in the work for equity, especially locally (at school).

What I’ve been doing to keep my spirits afloat:

  • I have been co-facilitating a book group at Math for America; we are doing a close and slow reading of Tracy Zager’s Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had.
  • I am the process of cooking up a great idea for a workshop this summer with a new online friend!
  • I have been taking Geometry-oriented workshops at Math for America which involve paper-folding and needlecraft – they have been super fun and inspiring Tamari Balls 783mathematically.
  • I am working on my NCTM presentation with a wonderful colleague and dear friend – best way to stay in touch long distance!
  • I play with my cats frequently.
  • I lurk on Twitter, and when I dip my toe in the water, I am always invited in for a swim.  It helps to know the community is there when I ready to join, even in my funk.

I don’t really like this post, and if you have read this far, I thank you profusely for listening to me whine.  I kept looking at the date of my last post and feeling the pressure to write, even without anything concrete to say.  Is this a mid-career slump? Am I getting too tired?  Worn out by awful news day after day (answer: yes, but me and everyone else I know)? I never want to be that teacher (or person) who is complacent, and I know there are always new and exciting things to do (I’ve still got to try my Clothesline #1TMCthing).  I’m hoping that writing all this down, and looking at what has happened in the last three months that is positive will help me finish the year with hope and energy for 2018.  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life is good and meant to be lived as well as we can, and for me, part of that is teaching – math and all the rest of it.

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geobarnett.com

 

 

8 comments

  1. Shereese

    You grow with your students and that is amazing. Still, as a former student, I admire that you care so much. It doesn’t go unnoticed!

  2. brian

    Hi Wendy. I miss you.

    Reading some of your story here reminds me of just how thoughtful of an educator you are. Your humility, vulnerability, and strength are inspirational. Hang tough.

  3. Trina Perna

    Hang in there Wendy! You’ve got much on your plate and your personal expectations are very high. So and try to give yourself a “get out of jail free pass”

    … I use the following mantra to help me adjust my daily expectations and it’s freed my soul from many self imposed burdens:

    “I am but one, But I am one. I cannot do everything, But I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, with God’s grace, I will do. Oh Lord, what will you have me do?

    Best of luck on all fronts and may you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

    Trina Perna (acquaintance from Your first Exeter Math camp – I came for a few days with my sister, Piper)

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Wendy Menard

      Trina!! So wonderful to hear from you! I hope you and Piper are both well – she’s not in the way of those fires, is she? Thank you for the kind thoughts and mantra- I will definitely use it. A wonderful holiday to you and your family- please send my very best to your sister.

      Wendy Menard Math Teacher Midwood High School 2839 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11210 718-724-8500

      >

  4. kdhowe1

    I had many of the same problems earlier in my career. Then I discovered private schools! Look up the ISAS schools.in your area. It’s like a breath of fresh air and salaries are comparable or better.

    Good luck!

    • Wendy Menard

      Very tempting, Kathy – I’ve heard that from others, and even gotten invitations to interview. However, I am at a point in life where giving up benefits is not an option. Thanks so much for reading.

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