Dear Claire,

The title of this post is two real things that were written in students’ name tents this week. I saved them all, so you can learn a bit about your students when you return.

The first week went off without a hitch… mostly. The issue that I relayed to you over the phone has already been repeated enough by me. I’m bugging myself that I’m so quick to share that negative story, so I’ll keep it out of print here and focus on the positive:

Students are beginning to understand that:
A) High school math is different and
B) They will have to talk to each other in class. Quite a bit.

"Now class, you may mumble, 'Fascinating!' as you return to your seats. In rows. No talking!"

“Now class, you may mumble, ‘Fascinating!’ as you return to your seats. In rows. No talking!”

I think I have done a satisfactory job of framing the class as yours, with me as the long-term substitute. You are such a Classroom Chef, you will have no issue taking over and adapting the class culture and routine to fit what you want.

And it’s a mark of your own risk-taking nature that you’re willing to let another cook in the kitchen. Well done.

Even after one week, the students begin to sort themselves based on the expectations of previous math teachers. Using the name tent, students were able to share information about their past math experience with me discreetly. I also got some great data from the math attitude survey, but I will save that for my talk at the CMC South in November.

Here's a hint.

Here’s a hint.


This week, I’m hoping to get students’ math notebooks started, begin a math journal (Fridays, maybe), and try the Double Clothesline for solving equations.

This will be the first of hopefully many lessons that will either surpass my expectations or fail grandly with someone watching. Either way, yee-haw! Taking a risk!


Unrelated: Since I’m still an instructional coach in addition to this sub gig, I got to walk classes the first week of school. After witnessing a classroom that’s sure to make students hate school, I unloaded on Kris.

In her usual composed, empathetic way, she patted my hand and encouraged me to “pick the battles worth fighting.”

“But, but,” I stammered. “Like, you see and hear about bad teaching more often than I do, plus you sent two of your own kids through school! How do you not burn the class down in frustration?” I pleaded.

She grinned. “Sometimes, I do.”

I love my department.

~Matt “Long-Term Sub, Long-Term Coach” Vaudrey