Teaching two periods of Integrated Math I while Claire Verti takes maternity leave, these are my public letters to her, as part of a 12-week series. Hopefully, she starts a blog when she returns.

Dear Claire,

I’m sweaty. The air conditioning went out around lunch, so the temperature soared past 80° for sixth and seventh periods.

My voice hurts. Leading a classroom based on discussion is still a lot of work. It’s a lot of talking to do in the first day of school; even with only two periods, my teacher voice is a little horse.

I’m busy. I’m wondering how I will be able to stay on top of the prep and still be out the door with time to play with my kids. That was kinda one of the conditions my wife laid out before we started this. It’s the same amount of prep for not much fudge.

I’m a team player. I found out that our classroom is being used for fifth period, which is fine; it’s a great class and it shouldn’t sit empty half the day. The bummer is that I only found this out when students began to line up at the door after fourth period. I had planned to use that time, instead I helped that teacher make a seating chart based on my desk arrangement, which you can see here.

I’m annoyed. Adriana and I are still not listed as co-teachers for your class, which means we can’t take attendance or post grades. I think I just got an email from the IT guy. Hopefully there is some good news there.

I’m giddy.

I’m excited. Both classes took a survey on their math ability today. There were three or four students in each class that didn’t have a smart phone with them, which means (if I supplement with Chromebook and stuff) it should be encouraging when we try to do entry and exit checks later this year. The data from that math attitude survey will (hopefully) show growth when I re-survey them in late October.

(I really hope it shows growth. I’m kinda presenting on that very thing at CMC-South the following week.)

I’m pleased with myself. An enormous freshman in seventh period was wrestling with the Open Middle problem, and he blurted, “This is harder than Pre-Calculus!” Now, there is no way he could know that, but it felt good it just the same*.

I’m feeling more and more confident in the classroom we’re constructing; it should be handed to you seamlessly in early November when you return. I’m figuring out ways to smoothly sample all students, use musical cues, and maintain a focus on the process of mathematics, not the result of the process.

Andrea told me this weekend, “I am really glad you are not in the classroom full-time anymore. In the last two weeks, I’ve heard you frustrated by a lot by things teachers can’t control. It’s one of many reasons I’m glad you’re a coach, where you have greater influence to help kids learn.”
She gets me.
These next 12 weeks might shove me into in school administration credential years sooner than I expected.

In all, you have 72 delightful students that should be trained well in the process of risk-taking, explaining their thinking, and working as a group.

And a lot of them are white! My schools in MoVal and Pomona had a 6% white population; I am not accustomed to so many students named Madison or Jacob.

We have four of each in our two classes.

~Matt “Another White Name” Vaudrey

*I later found out, he’s a Junior, so… never mind.