Thursday, August 29, 2013


It’s true that we often find joy in the moments that we least expect.

This opening week has been one of the better ones1, in spite of a few2 administrative hiccups.

The regular classes remind me a bit of the Algebra II classes that I had in my first full year (2007-08). Those classes were huge and — at times — rowdy. But there was something about the way that those classes meshed that always make me think of them fondly.3 Those were the classes that I felt put me on the map,4 so to speak.

This is also the first year since 2009-10 that I have ZERO former students — every single name on my rosters is a fresh face. Perhaps that’s helping to contribute to the feeling that this really is the beginning of a new arc.

. . .

Most of the 34 seats in my 7th period AP Stat class today were occupied halfway into the PASSING period – kids were telling me they wanted to make sure they actually got a seat. I have never seen anything like it,5 and I was *rather* impressed, especially considering most of them are seniors, and that they had to rush over to the “freshman wing” to get to my classroom.

. . .

This is my fourth year teaching AP Statistics — and the third in which I’ve had the opportunity to place the full weight of my creative energy into it. It was never on my original “five-year plan”, and I’ll admit there are times when I wish that it had fallen into my lap a year or two6 later… but it has been a truly special ride every step of the way.7 The opening day introduction, along with the first few blocks, in particular, are an experience that I especially cherish and look forward to each year. It’s hard for me to explain how much I enjoy having the opportunity to teach a class in which the students can see the rubber *really* meeting the road.

I realize how incredibly blessed I was to have learned how to teach the class from a handful of very wise mentors.8 Enough cannot be said about the importance of the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next.

. . .

For those not familiar with the intricacies of the high school mathematics track:

Students can opt to take AP Stat right after Algebra II.

They can take it after Precalculus.

They can take it after Calculus AB or Chaos Calculus.9

They can take it after Calculus BC.

And they can take it concurrently with any of those starting from Precal.

And we get all of the above. Which is to say, the mathematical prowess of the students in AP Stat are of an incredibly mixed bag — and in this class, almost none of that matters. And that’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about the course.

I overheard a few kids walking out today saying that they were actually enjoying a math class for the first time. And… that’s what it’s all about.

  1. aside from my zombified-sleepwalk on opening day []
  2. I would elaborate, but… you either wouldn’t read it all or you wouldn’t believe it all. []
  3. in particular, the 8th period class that year that had 34 kids. That was a surprisingly special bunch. []
  4. and not just the pre-AP’s that I had that year… which were also incredibly special. []
  5. almost like folks arriving to church early… or Lakers fans getting to Staples early… []
  6. or three []
  7. One of these days, however, I’m going to write a novel about the pain that was year one of AP Stat. Six to twelve hours of reading / working problems / outlining / prepping every single Saturday from August to April. Absolutely zero exaggeration. It was beyond insane. I’m sure most others would do just fine with much less, but… that’s not me. And although it paid off that July, it’s something I would not wish upon anyone. []
  8. in particular, Cathy and Penny []
  9. Chaos Calculus is our “regular” Calculus course, which we are fortunate enough to be able to offer on our campus []