Walking in Freedom

Miscellaneous musings along the way

Notable Differences August 21, 2012

It’s amazing how different my new job is.  Sure I’m still teaching high school math and many of my new students are rough around the edges, as were my former students.  Many of them have chaotic home lives that affect their performance at school.  That’s about where the similarities end.  Here are some initial notable differences:

  • With class size ranging from 4-9 students “group work” becomes a whole class activity!  It makes it a lot easier to make sure the students are staying on track!
  • Teaching 4 different courses (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2) with about 35 total students is easier than teaching just 2 courses with 135 total students… at least so far!
  • Staff meetings: At my old school, we had one per month with ~150 staff in attendance.  And, I’ll just say that most teachers did not look forward to them.  Now, we have daily meetings in the morning with 6-10 people in attendance.  Instead of staring blankly off into space and trying to pick out the bits and pieces that apply to you, every word spoken affects you in some way because you know every student and know something about each of the staff members.  We also pray for our students and each other every morning.
  • Not only am I allowed to share the most important aspect of my life with my students, I’m encouraged (and expected) to share my faith with them.  My job is not just to teach math, but to be an advocate and mentor for them.
  • I don’t have to worry about taking home papers to grade because I know I’ll be all caught up after working a little before school and during my prep period.
  • I’m finding that you can get about the same amount of work done in one 80 minute block than you can in two 50 minute class period- it makes prep work easier too! 🙂  And what makes the schedule even better is we get to see all our students on Friday!

Well, that’s a good start… you can be sure that there will be more to come! 🙂



Just another week in room 715 January 20, 2012

Three day weekends are nice… the fact that they are followed by 4 day weeks is pretty great too! 🙂

After a refreshing weekend which included a visit to a new coffee shop in town, I managed to get a pretty nasty cold.  But, not enough to keep me home- just enough to make me sneeze and cough on my students a lot and push my bedtime up a couple hours because I was so tired!!

Thought I’d just share some random happenings from the week:

  • Two senior (as in 17 or 18 year old) guys happily helped me grade some quizzes in exchange for some glittery Disney princess stickers.  One was planning to give them to his girlfriend…


  • In one of my classes, several students who I had 1st semester only (they were making up a credit) have stopped by to visit this week since it’s the first week of the 2nd semester.  Guess they’re just going through withdrawal!  haha!


  • In that same class, some of the girls wanted to know how I folded my scarf a particular way.  I showed them a couple weeks ago but someone wanted to see again, so I jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate.  Since it’s a Geometry class, I explained how “you find the midpoint and fold it in half so you have two congruent segments.  Then… etc. etc.”  After my animated explanation, I quickly racked my brain- ‘how can I transition to diagonals of a parallelogram??’  Then I had it… “So, just like the midpoint divides the scarf into 2 congruent segments, the diagonals of a parallelogram bisect each other- forming two congruent segments.”  Good times…

  • I’ll finish with one more: I have a student, I’ll call him Eric, in one of my classes and he somehow got this idea that he wants to have me as his math teacher again next year.  Well, there’s been a lot of talk with scheduling for next year already and he was asking me what math class he could take so that he could have me again.  He wanted to know if he’d be able to take the senior math class I currently teach.  Time will tell what I end of teaching (there will be lots of changes in the department next year), but it does make you feel like you’re doing something right when a student is trying to have you 2 years in a row.

More stories for another day… 🙂


Sweet summer jobs July 25, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Uncategorized — songofjoy88 @ 10:29 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Wow!  A whole week went by without a post… part of that has to do with the fact that I have been working!  I probably have the sweetest summer job(s) ever!  I have the opportunity to tutor a couple of motivated students in Algebra 2 and pre-algebra.  It’s so fun to work with students who want to get it and are willing to put forth the effort.  Also, the whole no disruptions thing is nice.  Basically I get paid to chill at Panera and do math with a student- good stuff!  I’m thankful to God for providing the opportunity to tutor this summer- I would much rather tutor than teacher summer school!


My other sweet job is with the park district.  The variety is great and it’s nice to actually have co-workers (unlike teaching where you only see adults at lunch).  So far, I’ve worked as a server at two high school reunions, a wedding and a wine tasting.  Last week, I was trained to drive the beer cart and Friday drove around the golf course for about 5 hours selling drinks!


When I was looking for summer jobs, I knew I wanted to do something that would be a change from teaching and my job with the parks definitely meets that criteria.  Again, I’m thankful for God’s provision.  It has been such a blessing to have a productive way to spend my time- doing my tasks at work and getting to know my co-workers and customers.  After all, life is all about relationships.  I’ve enjoyed little conversations here and there as I learn what makes my co-workers tick.  For example, one of my co-workers, a high school student, is all about money.  He was asking me last week about how much “extra” money you have when you’re working and on your own.  This reminded me of a previous conversation we had about the drive to get more money and I asked him when he would know he had enough.  The exact details of the conversations aren’t important.  I just think it’s neat that I have an opportunity to invest in the lives of people who don’t share the same motivations as me.  It remind me of Paul’s words in Acts 17:26-28–> From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’  This also reminds me of a sweet song by Flame.  Check it out as you finish reading this post. 🙂

Yum! 2 steaks, salad, mixed veggies, vegetarian alfredo pasta and a rye roll!

The free food I get isn’t bad either!  If any of you have ever worked food service, you know that any food that was out has to be thrown away… even if there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Well, if we have leftovers from the buffet, we fix up some nice to-go meals like the one in the picture (after eating our dinner during our shift).  And just this last week, I got BBQ ribs… yum!  So, not only am I getting paid (albeit close to minimum wage), I’m saving on groceries… and having a good time at work!


I’m reminded of James 1:17 which says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ”  Thank you to The One who is giving me these summer jobs as gifts!  May my actions as I work bring glory to my steadfast God.





When the lights go out June 26, 2011

Filed under: Faith — songofjoy88 @ 10:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

As some of you may know, I’m doing some private math tutoring this summer.  This past week, I was at the library working with a student in a study/computer room upstairs next to some pretty big windows.  It was somewhat cloudy, but not at all stormy.  Out of nowhere, the power goes out in the entire library (and I later found out, it affected about two thirds of the town where I live for 3 hours!).  The people who had been in the same room piddling around on the computers were quite disappointed, as it didn’t seem power was coming back anytime soon.  But for us, the light streaming through the windows provided sufficient light and we were unfazed.  We were positioned in such a way that the sun provided light, allowing us to continue working (…until it got stuffy).


This got me thinking… what do I do when my power goes out, when my energy is drained?  Am I close enough to the sun (or, The Son) that I can still see and keep going?  Or do I give up?  Do I quit pressing on because somehow I sense a lack of guidance or clarity?


In Psalm 119:105, God’s word says: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  And read this wonderful promise from Isaiah 42:16 which says: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”


So, what about you?  What do you do when the lights go out in your life?  Where do you look for direction?  How do you expect to see what’s in front of you?  Who do you look for to illuminate your path and to strengthen you?  Have you tried looking to The Son?


And, I’ll close with an oldie but a goody from D.C. Talk… enjoy! 🙂



Math Brink (part 2) August 22, 2010

Filed under: Math — songofjoy88 @ 10:05 pm

Two months ago I wrote a post called “Math Brink” touching on the sometimes confusing nature of mathematics.  Even if math comes easily to you, I would imagine that if you continued taking higher and higher levels of college math, you too would discover what it’s like to reach your math brink.  At least that’s what happened to me… and lots of my friends.

But part of me wonders if the reason plenty of people just don’t “like” math has more to do with repeated failure than with the nature of mathematics.  I mean, who likes to experience failure in something over and over?  It all starts when a student has some negative experiences in a math class or with a particular teacher.  This can set off a chain of dominoes that land a student in remedial math classes convinced that he is just not good at math.  The student avoids homework and doesn’t participate in class, if he even shows up.  But is he trying to avoid math or avoid failure?  Due to his past experiences, there is such a close connection between the two that he could use the words math and failure interchangeably.

But, what if he experienced success in math class?  How might that change a student’s mindset toward math?  One success might have little impact, but what if the successes came more often?  Granted this is all conjecture, but I think a student’s attitude toward math is far more significant than whatever innate ability the student may have.

In their frustration, it may be a student’s sense of humor that gets him through a tough math class:

And I haven’t even mentioned anything about how it is acceptable to say, “Uggh!  I hate math!”  or “I’m no good at math” or “Math just isn’t my thing,” as if people were proud of that fact.  However, what would people think if someone said, “Reading- I’m no good at that!”  or “Reading just isn’t my thing”?  I’ll leave that discussion for another day.