Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Happy 5th Diabetes Birthday!

You know those times when you blink and 5, 10 or 20+ years disappear. That's how I've felt today. I can't believe 5 years have passed since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I have learned so much about my body and this disease, but then there are days when my body decides to go rogue and I'm reminded I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

That's where I have to let Jesus step in. I can't manage this disease on my own. I have ZERO control. I truly believe God allowed me to have this disease to help teach me about His provision and that He is in control and I am not. Believe me. It is a daily lesson that I still struggle with. You would think that living with a disease that quite literally has huge ups and downs would teach you to trust God every day all the time, but it hasn't. I'm hard-headed and stubborn and needed a life-long disease to continuously teach me.

Despite the ups and downs I have experienced, God has graciously allowed me to continue serving Him in ways I never anticipated. After I was diagnosed, I never thought I would be able to serve overseas again, but I have and have fallen in love with a country where I hope to serve long-term (soon). I have no idea where the Lord is taking me now or in the next 5 years. Similar to 5 years ago I didn't know I was about to get into an ambulance in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), but I know he has a plan and wants me to continue serving Him no matter what life brings.

Right now that means I keep teaching my Northbrook kids whether I love them or am beyond frustrated with them that particular day. It means I faithfully serve at church and its ministry partners. It means I continue loving my family and friends and people I meet even when they are hard to love. And most importantly it means I participate in the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations to ultimately bring God glory. Anything else is just bonus.

In the last 5 years, I have done things that I never thought were possible for me, and I am sure that the next 5 will prove to be the same. No matter what happens or where God sends me, I know I am not in control, but He is.

I really cannot wait to see how the Lord continues to work in and through me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#TMC15 reflections

I already wrote about how the relationships I built before TMC totally changed my experience this year, but I didn't really go into specifics on what I learned and how I want to implement new things in the coming year.

Here's a mini recap:


I was in the Desmos morning session after the one and only Lisa Henry welcomed us to TMC15. We got to play Desmos Bingo and discover some new things we hadn't figured out before. Lots of good nerdgasms when we figured things out, and we became more comfortable with Desmos.

In the afternoon, I went to Andrew Stadel's session Math Mistakes and Error Analysis: Diamonds in the Rough where he talked about how to use mistakes (the children's and ones you made up) more effectively in your instruction and reteaching. I will definitely be searching for ways to use mistakes more in my teaching.

After that, I went to Heather Kohn's session Learning Math, Learning English, or Learning Both? She talked about how she's been given all these ESL strategies in district/state initiatives, but not all of them work in a math classroom. She discussed the strategies she found effective in her classroom, and I can't wait to try them.


In the Desmos session, we played with Polygraph and created our own if we wanted to. I made a Disney one. (Raise your hand if you're surprised.) We also got to look at Activity Builder and the fun things to come in a few days.

Glenn Waddell spoke in My Favorites after lunch about how he teaches people and gives his kids high fives every day. I love my kids like a momma, but it's still a good reminder for all of us. We also heard from Heather Kohn- the chick who 3D prints. Mary Bourassa (my TMC13 roomie and also not an axe murderer) spoke about Which one doesn't belong?. I've loved using this in class. If you haven't seen it, go look into it RIGHT NOW! :)

Christopher Danielson told us to "find what you love, and do more of that" in his keynote. This has been a struggle to think about for me. I don't know what I love. I know I love my kids and standing with them in their successes and failures, but I don't know what I love about mathematics. I'm obviously still pondering this, so there might be more to come on this later.

In the afternoon, I went to Rachel Kernodle's Better Questions: Ours/Our Students. She challenged us to be able to answer these questions every day - "What is the best question you asked today?" and "What is the best question a student asked you today?" Changed my life, people. She also gave us some tips so that we're spending time planning the questions we're going to ask instead of hoping we'll come up with good ones on the spot. Guilty. This session definitely challenged me, and Rachel and I are talking about how we would like to incorporate our best questions into a 180 blog.

Last I went to Fawn Nguyen and Matt Vaudrey's Barbie Bungee session. I had never done the activity and thought it was something I could use in my remedial math class. So fun and challenging!


We finished up in the Desmos session and my goals moving forward really center around making activities to teach/explore Pre-Cal topics that I have previously done on paper. Woohoo for Activity Builder!

After lunch, Fawn gave her keynote that really challenged my immaturity. I'm a young teacher and sometimes it is really easy for me to sink to high school kids level. As a professional, that looks terrible and is really just annoying. She brought to the surface the things I need to be praying about and letting the Lord change my heart as I interact with administration, colleagues, students, and parents.

Then I said good bye to my best friends moving to Guatemala. All the tears, people. Also, go read her blog!

The last session I went to on Saturday was Number Talks in Middle School and High School with Chris Harris. I could really see myself using this in my remedial math class and in Pre-Cal. This was a challenge for me because as I listened to other people's explanations of how they solved addition and subtraction, I realized I am making it a lot harder on myself when I use mental math. It challenged me to think about adding and subtracting differently, and that I should be challenging my students in similar ways.


Two hours of My Favorites was all there was on Sunday, plus some singing, and overly hyped release of the TMC16 location. Pre-TMC party at Mall of America.

Goals for next year:

Every year when I leave TMC, I want to try a million new things. I can't do them all or I would make myself crazy. I talked about a few of the high points for me that I would like to take to my classroom: using mistakes, planning better questions, using more ESL strategies, and allowing my students to teach each other new strategies for mental math. Am I going to use all of these? Yes. Am I going to use them all every day? Of course not. Some days will be better than others, but I think it is more about being willing to change my behaviors, trying new things, and being okay with failure. Not everything is going to work every time, but that doesn't mean I stop trying to make my teaching and my classroom better. Along with relationships that were built last week, I also found a renewed motivation to make change happen in my room. I am really excited about this new school year, and I hope you are too!

If you were in the #TMCjealousycamp, use the wiki. There's tons of good stuff on there from all the years.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TMC was different this year.

To adequately describe TMC 15, I need to start from the beginning. I went to TMC 13 with two of my coworkers. I'm shy (at first, get to know me and watch out), so I pretty much stuck to them the whole time. I met very few new people. TMC 14 was pretty much the same song, second verse only now there were 4 of my coworkers with me. I felt like an outsider looking in. There was always this fear that I wasn't good enough/smart enough/cool enough to talk to these great math teachers. It was like being in 9th grade again when all my junior high friends went to the other high school and all the other kids already knew each other. I didn't know how to break that barrier, and in this case I didn't have to because I had a safety net of my best friends and coworkers with me.

The other thing that held me back a little was having conversations over Twitter with people that I don't actually know. It's weird. I've only ever talked to people online that I have met before. Trying to talk to strangers about things that are close to my heart is SO HARD. I have a great local community so I didn't need to push myself outside of my comfort zone to have a MTBoS community, so I didn't.

Fast forward to this year. It started with Casey picking me up at the airport. I had only talked with her for two and half months on Twitter because we were planning a trip to Disneyland with Heather, Meg, and Nicole. She walks up to me at the airport and my awkward self says, "This is weird, right?" This girl could be an axe murderer?! (She's not. She loves Disney. All is well.) It turns out that I needed an afternoon of giving Casey incomplete directions and taking the long way to places, 16 hours at Disneyland with 4 fantastic ladies, and a taping of The Price is Right with a bunch of math teachers to make me comfortable enough to talk math and teaching with people I hardly know.

My Pre-TMC party opened so many doors because I met new people who introduced me to even more new people. For the first time, I felt like I belong in the MTBoS community. I felt like I had things to contribute, and I wasn't just a lurker on the outside. I am smart enough to interact with these people because hey guess what, they are normal people too. DUH.

Ok enough Pre-TMC. The conference started and I had nothing but excitement. I knew from previous experiences that I was going to learn tons of great things, be inspired and invigorated to actually start working on my giant August to do list, and challenged to try new things in my classroom to enhance my kids' math education. I honestly enjoyed and learned something new in every single session.

This community is inspiring. Hearing the history of what I am walking into and joining is encouraging. Hearing other people's struggles, plans, and successes is necessary and important for my growth as an educator. Knowing that I am not alone when I so often feel that way is crucial to thriving in my classroom, not just surviving. I am grateful to know these people, learn from them, be inspired by them, and have fun with them.

It's about the community, stupid. -Lisa Henry

She speaks the truth.

There will be another post about what sessions I went to and more specific things I learned and want to implement this school year. Stay tuned. :)

Also pictures because it's me...

I hopped off the plane at... (that's a lie, but I don't care.)
Pacific Ocean!
How could anyone be sad?
I-10...a very long way from home
This was my room at Disneyland. I teared up a little. Too much excitement.
You do NOT waste time at Disney. Plan of attack.
These are my people.
California Adventure

Secret Minnie meeting

Finding Nemo submarine ride
Heather and I waited over an hour. Totally worth it.
Heather and I got better the second time.
Come on down...except none of us got to.
But we had fun anyway!
The boys really like big glasses. I don't get it either.

mostly we dislike each other. (side note: good hair day)
New best friend

Saturday, March 7, 2015


I was teaching solving trig equations at the beginning of the semester, and the kids just were not getting it. There was probably some issue with me diving in too deep too quickly, but the kids were not trying their hardest to understand either. I was fed up and out of ideas to help them understand.

Then I had an idea. What if I just make a dropbox folder with all the homework worked out so they can look and study on their own time. I don't have time to sit and tutor every kid, but if they have the work in front of them, they might be able to make some more sense of trig equations.

Turns out it was a good idea. The kids who use the link love it. The kids who continue to ignore me don't care. Their loss. I want to help the ones who care and want to try. This has done it, and it really isn't that much more work for me. I am going to work every assignment anyway to make sure I know what I am doing and to have an answer key. All I am doing now is letting them all have access to it too.

I had some worry that kids would just go and copy it instead of working it themselves. This has happened in a couple cases, but as the kids were copying (in class, where I caught them) I noticed that they were also thinking through the problem more thoroughly from start to finish instead of getting lost in each individual step. So, also a win in my book. I have also started waiting a day to post it, so it is more of a "I work, THEN I go check" type of situation.

Sometimes I scan the pages. Sometimes I just upload a picture. Sometimes I put them nicely in a word document and post it as a PDF. It usually depends on the time I have that day/week. All of those ways work just fine.