Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Oh the Places I will Go

Who knew math and church youth group could take me to so many amazing places!  Now it has all wrapped up so I thought I would reflect on it.

For math, I was lucky to be able to go to 3 Twitter Math Camps during the summer:
2016 - My 1st in Minneapolis
2017 - In Atlanta
2018 - In Cleveland, Ohio.

I was lucky because I got to be around amazing teachers for a week and just take it all in.  I got to meet these people in real life.  Go out for great meals.  Go for runs.  See these amazing cities.  I remember at first thinking, Minneapolis...who wants to go there.  I fell in love with that city.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit.  (In summer, of course).  Atlanta was so different than I thought as well.  It is huge with a lot of trees.  For us to travel from out hotel to the Coke museum was a hotel bus, to a city bus, to a train, to then still having to walk a mile.  Crazy.  We went to the Georgia Aquarium.  We have a great one in Boston and I wasn't going to go to this one.  Amazing!  Again, if you are ever in Atlanta, you should visit the Aquarium.  And, then last summer was Cleveland.  So many awesome restaurants!  Such a cute city.  I recommend it as well.

For our church youth group, I just "retired" from volunteering as our youth minister.  Eight years ago, our church has a paid youth minister.  I helped him out with our youth group and went on my first mission trip to Mississippi.  His position was cut and I didn't want to see it end, so I stepped up and volunteered.  For eight years I have run (with a lot of help from some great friends) our youth group and mission trip.  The kids are awesome and make it all worth it but it is a lot of work and a lot of time.  We have a school year calendar full of events from service to prayer to fun events.  Our religious ed leader told us we have the best group around our area because she has meetings with other churches.

That first mission trip really was life changing.  And, every one after it has been as well.  I am so blessed to have been part of it.  It has been so fun to have the opportunity to share a week with my students in a different part of the country and expose them to different ways of life.  I am sad that it has come to an end, but I am looking forward to slowing things down and having more time.

Each trip was about 60 people.  I always had such a fun group of adult leaders as well.  So many memories:

2012- Mississippi to clean up after Hurricane Katrina
2013 - New Jersey to clean up after Super Storm Sandy
2014 - Back to Mississippi for still more clean up after Katrina
2015 - Queens, NY for a crazy city experience
2016 - Appalachia, West Virginia - our group of leaders really wanted to get here and we made it happen.
2017 - Adirondacks, NY - we had a nice, quiet week of community work
2018 - Houston, Texas to help after Hurricane Harvey - we took 2 sites.  One site held 50 people and we knew that would be too limiting so I took a risk and took both sites for a total of 100 people.  This would be our biggest trip and I was a bit nervous about filling all our spots and then dealing with the large number travel wise.  I thought like the movie "A Field of Dreams" - If we build it, they will come.  They did.  We filled all 100 spots.  That became our t-shirts - "100 helping Houston".
2019 - My last trip - Philadelphia.  This was definitely memorable.  We had 9 graduated seniors who joined us for all 4 mission trips during their high school career!  It was a crazy trip.  With all my planning, many things happened outside my control, but we pulled together and it bonded us.  For a lot of kids this was their favorite trip.

With all this traveling for math and youth group, now I hope to get to travel some with my husband. 

Happy Medium or Medium Happy?

That's start at the end, that is the end of last school year and even before that.  Last school year was not a great year.  It was anything personally against me but everyone that I work with at school and on Twitter had stinky years with lots of bad stuff happening to them.  I wanted to help them.  I didn't want to just be the positive cheerleader telling them annoying positive phrases.  It was just stuff they had to go through and I tried to be there for them. 

At the last week and 2 days of the school year, I developed vertigo.  Yuck!  It was debilitating!  I woke up that Sunday throwing up and spinning.  Monday was even worse and I had to take the day off from school.  I went into a walk in clinic and they gave me a prescription to help the spinning.  Then, I went to my friend who is a physical therapist that specializes in vertigo.  She did some testing on me and gave me some exercises to help me get better.  I felt worse than being drunk.  I walked tilted to the right.  I couldn't drive.  I couldn't lay back.  I couldn't close my eyes.  I was most comfortable lying at a 45 degree angle and just staring into space.  I had to have my family drive me to school and some colleagues drive me home.  I couldn't look at the computer screen.  I did go home early two days after the kids took their final exams.  I was so thrilled that a colleague offered to grade some of my exams.  It was so helpful.  I was doing everything in slow motion.  I now have a better understanding of what it is like when kids have concussions.  I couldn't go any faster.  I couldn't think.  I was so tired.  I didn't feel like myself and I was mad.  I just wanted to walk up normal.  I did my exercises and rested a lot so I was better after about one and a half week.  I know people suffer from it a lot longer than that and I can't imagine. 

But, due to this, I didn't end the school year the way I normally do.  I would pull everything out of my school closets and toss stuff I didn't use this year.  I would reorganize.  I would pack up neatly so I could come in fresh for this school year.  Nope, I just stuffed stuff away.  I am not looking forward to trying to find things.  But, it was what I had to do.  It will all be fine in the end.

So, my title...I am going to try to find a happy medium this year.  Not getting too busy or too far behind.  Not taking too much home with me.  Exercising, sleeping, staying healthy.  Then, maybe I will find a happy medium or maybe at least be medium happy.

Algebra I is back!

I am entering my 15th year of teaching and all those years except last I have taught Algebra 1.  I made it a really great class full of MTBoS lessons.  I was bummed to not have it last year and I found myself missing it. 

Turns out, I get it back this year.  There will a few changes.  I have the Accelerated level, but it will be different in years past because my incoming freshmen will have taken Algebra 1 in 8th grade.  Now, they are taking the accelerated class.  I am looking at it as they have been exposed to the ideas last year and I can dig deeper with them this year.  I will do a lot at the boards #VNPS.  We will get to do some meaty problems.  I will assign less homework than I have in the past.  I did not assign any in my college prep Geometry class last year and it went well.  Not ready to totally abandon it here, but I am going to aim for 5 good problems a night. Things I missed and hope to bring back - Bucky the Badger 3 Act, Taco Cart 3 Act, candy catapults for quadratics, cup stacking, Monopoly regression from Yummy Math and so much more.  We will do visualpatterns.org and would you rather plus estimation 180.  I can't wait.

Oh, and my classes are smaller than in the past.  I usually have about 25-29 kids per class.  So far, my Algebra 1 classes are at 12 and 19.  I am not complaining.

My other classes will be two Accelerated Algebra 2 classes and 1 college prep Geometry class that was new to me last year.  I had a blast making it, so I look forward to making it even better.