#summerthrowdown

Guess who’s back?
Back again.
Throwdown’s back.
Tell a friend.
Guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back?
Guess who’s back?
(Na na na. . .)

Weeeeeeee’re baaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaack!

#summerthrowdown is back for its third year, and this year (as always) promises to be better than before.

Why? What could possibly make this year better?

You, of course!

You’re no doubt excited to read more than you did last year. And if you’re new to #summerthrowdown, then you’re definitely going to be all in, to prove to yourself the reading you can do. Right? Right. So. Let’s do this. If you’re new this year or if you’ve been around a while, make sure to read through the very few rules and regulations we’ve got here.

What is #summerthrowdown?

#summerthrowdown is a yearly summer reading challenge. We’ve tinkered with the setup a bit over the last couple years, and we think we’ve found something that works.

The first year, we pitted teachers against librarians to see who could read more. It was a huge success, with us reading 2873 books, for a unit rate of 17.8 books per participant. Pretty darn good! However, we didn’t really care for the idea of pitting these two champions of reading against each other. We should be celebrating this reading with each other, right?

Last year, we joined forces and threw down against ourselves. Everyone set a reading goal for the month of July, and we set out to beat the previous year’s total. And you know what? We did. We were even more successful last year, reading 3064 books, at a rate of 24.1 books per participant. We threw down against 2012, and we smoked ‘em!

Who is this “we” you’re talking about? Are you just that full of yourself? Or. . .yourselves?

No, we’re not. I mean <ahem> I’m not. The we I’m talking about here is not the royal “we,” but rather the #summerthrowdown management team! The lovely Jillian Heise (my bonus sister), the esteemed Kathy Burnette, and the stellar Sherry Gick. Those links are their Twitter accounts, and you’ll want to be sure to follow them to get the full #summerthrowdown experience!

So I need to be on Twitter to do this?

No. You absolutely do not have to be on Twitter. However, Twitter, using the hashtag #summerthrowdown, will be our home base for the conversation as we read. The four moderators will be tweeting out statistics (for those of you who are motivated by those types of things), encouragements (for those of you who are encouraged by those types of things), and smack talk (I will largely be smack-talking Jillian as she struggles to keep up with the torrential pace I will no doubt be setting).

We also want the participants who are on Twitter to tweet the books they’ve been reading, encouragement to others, and, yes, perhaps a little smack talk towards their challenge partner. The best part of #summerthrowdown is the community it supports during July and the rest of the year. So please, come be a part!

Smack talk? Challenge partner?

Something we’re doing new this year (because it is our intention to mess with a good thing — to make it better, of course!) is having the participants call each other out on their reading goals. For example, I am going to challenge myself to read 25 books. I read 17 last year, and I think I can do more this year. BUT. I also am going to throw down against Jillian, and let her know that there is NO WAY she is going to read more than me. And she will no doubt do the same against me. This adds a friendly level of competition for those who may like that sort of thing.

How do I call someone out?

I’m glad you asked that, imaginary audience member. What I will be doing is recording a video for Jillian (and anyone else who clicks). In it, I will throw down the gauntlet and challenge her. We encourage you to do something similar. Sherry, on her blog, is going to provide us all with an image we can use and edit to call out our challenge partner.

Here’s the thing with this part, though. We need to remember: this is ALL ABOUT READING. We all love to read and want to encourage each other, and a little bit of friendly competition will help some of us with that. But. We need to be sure to keep it friendly. If someone doesn’t return your request to throw down, that’s perfectly okay. There may be a thousand different reasons why they don’t feel comfortable doing that, and whichever reason they have — even if they don’t give one — is perfectly valid and will be respected. If you do find someone to throw down with, keep the banter mostly positive. We don’t want to call people out for not reading — that’s called shaming and we will never do that with reading. We don’t want to make people feel inferior for not having read as much as we have — that devalues the reading they have done, which is worth celebrating, not berating. We want to give people a target. When you challenge someone, you’re putting the target on your back, saying, “Hey. Catch me.”

Of course, this aspect of #summerthrowdown is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. You do not need to have a challenge partner to participate. In fact, most of you probably won’t. And this is something that’s just between the two of you. We’re not going to have any place to formally register your individual throw downs. It’s just something some of you wanted, so we’re going to see how it goes.

Plus, there’s just no way I’m going to let Jillian beat me this year.

Okay. I’m in. How do I do this?

We have a spreadsheet set up for you to fill out. All you have to do is put in your name, your Twitter handle (if you have one), your reading goal, and then update your row every time you read a book. So if you read 2 books on July 2, you would put a “2″ in the corresponding cell. Your totals are found at the very end of your row. The collective totals will be at the very top. Our goal, once again, is to beat last year’s total.

Please watch for your row — it’s possible that once we have people register, we will have to make some small changes that may accidentally involve re-ordering of the rows. Or we may find that it’ll be easier for everyone to find their row if we alphabetize them. Leave that to us. All you need to do is edit your row, wherever it may be.

Excellent. So, what counts as a book?

Is it a book?

Yes.

Then it counts as a book.

No matter how long it is?

No matter how long it is.

So if I read a book that’s 750 pages long and my challenge partner reads 10 picture books, then she will beat me?

Well, that’s up to you. How do you want to frame your head-to-head throwdown? When I set my personal goal, I know I’m going to be reading mostly novels. When Jillian sets hers, she may know that she’s going to include a lot of picture books. So something I’m going to do when I challenge her is to admit that I might not read as many books as she does. However, I will assuredly read more pages. And that’s a way we will tweak our throw down so it allows for that. Feel free to do something similar.

Ultimately, though, for the spreadsheet, any book you read is a book. Plain and simple.

What if I’ve already started a book before July 1?

Great question. If you’re in the middle of a book when we begin #summerthrowdown, it will count as a  throwdown book IF you were less than halfway through as of midnight on July 1. If you were mostly done with the book, then it will not count for our purposes.

This post is getting long. Can I go now?

Yes, you may. Thanks for your help.

If you have any questions, please ask any of us on Twitter, comment here, or send a carrier pigeon. #summerthrowdown lasts for all of July, so get ready to get reading!

 

I know this has been a blog primarily from the perspective of an English teacher, but the fact is, of my 7 years teaching, 3 have been teaching English. All 7 have included teaching at least one math course. I’ve taught math at every level of my certification: from 6th grade to high school calculus, and everywhere in between. I’ve got some math chops; I just don’t often display them here.

But today. Today, I feel I must.

For, you see, math education in the United States is getting a pretty horrendous treatment right now, and today was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s been tough to go too far without running into someone slamming what they call Common Core Math. Elementary math problems are made to be jokes for how difficult they are. Stephen Colbert and Louis C.K. have weighed in, along with other videos and photographs that have gone viral.

Today, I came across this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldyl_uYrojs

This seems pretty standard fare for the level of derision being cast upon problems just like this one. To sum up:

He asks a bunch of people who were educated in the same way he was (savvy readers will notice my lack of an appositive there; savvier readers will know what that means) to look at a problem that is being taught in a different way. He shows them the way they all learned it, and is excited because it’s quick. “Answer. DONE.” Because to him, and apparently to the others in the video (or at least the one he shows), the reason to do simple subtraction problems as an elementary student is to get the answer. The other way, which nobody in the video seems to understand, is messy and leads to people being confused and asking questions about it. Which is clearly not the reason simple subtraction problems are assigned.

Now, as it is mostly English-minded people who read this blog, let me ask you a question: why do you assign reading? Is it so students can finish the passage and then move on with their lives? Or would you hope they actually glean something from the reading they can apply to their lives? Would you hope they actually think reflectively on what they were doing?

Here’s the truth about that subtraction problem: the “old” way — the way everyone in the video was likely taught — was an algorithm. It wasn’t a “how do you solve this problem?” education. It was a “here’s how to solve this problem” education. The “old” way gave a tool to students to solve subtraction problems. So long as both numbers were positive and the answer was also positive. Which does sort of leave out half of the numbers that exist.

Anyway, the “old” way works in those cases. Anybody know why? Anybody who hasn’t studied math actually know why that algorithm works? And do you then also know when it doesn’t work? I hope so, but I doubt it.

The “new” way involves what people actually do: they count. We use what we call landmarks: numbers we are comfortable using. You need to find the difference between 12 and 32? Well, that means you need to know how far it is from 12 to 32. Adding 3 to 12 will get you to 15, which is a nicer number. I’m more comfortable with that number than 12. Then 5 more will take me to 20. I like that a lot. 10 more takes me to 30, which is really close to where I want to go. Now, I just need 2 more. Ahh. 32. There we go. We’ve landed. So, how far did I go?

Well, I went up 3, then 5, then 10, and then 2. So 3 + 5 + 10 + 2 = 20. 32 – 12 is 20.

Did that take a while? Yes. Did we get to the same answer? Yes.

Did a young elementary student learning about subtraction actually have to do some genuine thinking, reason through a problem and have an understanding of what it means to subtract as opposed to merely use an algorithm nobody will ever explain? You betcha.

The thing is, I would much rather have in my middle school math class a student who learned to subtract this way. Would you like to know why? He or she could actually subtract. And subtract anything. Because this method works with any numbers, in any order. Negatives, positives, zero — you name it, this reasoning works.

This week, I was teaching 2-step equations to my 6th graders. It’s a difficult concept, but they’re a really smart class, and I know they’d be able to handle it with a little guidance. Here’s what I didn’t anticipate: they can’t subtract. When they’re given two positive numbers, they’re just fine. But when it comes to negatives? They’re lost. They’re grabbing at straws: “if they’re both negative, it’s positive, right? Or is that just for multiplication?” They don’t know the rules because all they were ever given were the rules. They weren’t actually taught what it means to subtract. And so I find myself teaching this rather than the content I was hoping to cover with them.

If we want our students to pass Algebra II by the time they graduate high school (Michigan state requirement), we can’t be teaching them how to subtract in 6th grade. We need something that makes sense to them when they’re younger that they can use when they’re older. We need teachers to teach them these basic concepts in a way that gives conceptual understanding, and not just an algorithm they can use to poke fun at things that are different when they’re older.

English teachers, I know we have all kinds of gripes with the CCSS. But in math, they’re not all that bad. We can rally against the testing all day long, but the math standards have some merit to them. We need a lot of this reform in our elementary schools. Imagine that someone only ever knew about poetry that rhymed. That’s all they did in school, and they thought that’s all poetry was. They never had to worry about using poems in their life, because pffff who does that? But when their child brought home a poem they wrote that didn’t rhyme, they knew they had to take to the Internet to point out how terrible this was. Their child’s poem didn’t even rhyme! What kind of system is this?! They asked their friends who also had only learned about poetry that rhymed. Their friends were right there with them, livid with the way their children were being taught. HOW DARE THEY TEACH ABOUT POETRY THAT DOESN’T RHYME!

What would you say? Would you let them stomp all over your now robust use of poetry, which you studied for years? Or would you stand up and tell them to show you where their English education degree is?

Math education is being dragged through the mud. It does need a good washing. But please, don’t throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about: please, please stop talking.

Wedding Band Shopping

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

My fiancée and I were recently out wedding band shopping.

Quick break: are you like me, and instantly thought of musicians and not expensive pieces of jewelry? Glad to know I’m not alone. Aaaaand we’re back.

We went to a jewelry store we were both very comfortable with, and also where I bought her engagement ring. Both employees were busy helping other customers, so we browsed for a bit while we waited for some assistance.

Eventually, one of the employees finished with who he was helping, and walked over to us. We were in front of the female wedding band section. He asked what we were looking for, and if we wanted diamonds or not. She said yes, she did, and I said I did not want diamonds in mine.

We were quickly moved away from the female wedding bands, and over to the male wedding bands. I told him a couple had caught my eye earlier, and he pulled those down for me. I tried a few on, and he told me about how he had chosen a similar ring after he ran into some troubles with another style. I decided the last one I looked at was the one I liked the best, and he set that aside. He then turned to take care of a very quick transaction for someone else.

Meanwhile, my fiancée was moving back to the female wedding bands. There, the other employee was finishing up with the couple he was helping.

This employee was someone who knew us. He had met my fiancée before, and had heard about me. He started the conversation just by asking us how we were doing. Then we started looking at rings. He asked my fiancée what she liked, and pulled a few out for her to try on. And more than just try them on, he had her place her hand at her side, look away, and then look back. He wanted to make sure this was a ring she could see herself in — one that looked natural to her. When she would say something was not quite right, he would ask her what it was she liked and what it was she didn’t like about it, and made further suggestions from there. He was really doing everything in his expertise to make sure that he matched the right ring with the right person.

Eventually, she found the right ring. Then, he moved on to me. We went through a similar process, and I quickly discovered that I didn’t like the ring I looked at earlier at all. What a bad decision that would have been! We looked through a few, and eventually, I made my choice as well.

I think we looked at 17 rings all together. But at the end of the day, we each had exactly what we wanted.

 

Now, those of you who have read this blog before know that usually I’m talking about books or teaching or something like that. Those of you who are a bit more astute probably know where I’m heading with this. If you’ll permit me, I’m going to tell the same story, again, but I’m going to change a few phrases and words here and there.

 

We went to a bookstore we were both very comfortable with, and also where we had bought books before. Both employees were busy helping other customers, so we browsed for a bit while we waited for some assistance.

Eventually, one of the employees finished with who he was helping, and walked over to us. We were in front of the contemporary young adult section. He asked what we were looking for, and if we wanted kissy books or not. She said yes, she did, and I said I did not want that in mine.

We were quickly moved away from the contemporary young adult, and over to the science fiction. I told him a couple had caught my eye earlier, and he pulled those down for me. I read the covers of a few, and he told me about how he had chosen a similar book after he ran into some troubles with another genre. I decided the last one I looked at was the one I liked the best, and he set that aside. He then turned to take care of a very quick transaction for someone else.

Meanwhile, my fiancée was moving back to the contemporary young adult. There, the other employee was finishing up with the couple he was helping.

This employee was someone who knew us. He had met my fiancée before, and had heard about me. He started the conversation just by asking us how we were doing. Then we started looking at books. He asked my fiancée what she liked, and pulled a few out for her to look at. And more than just look at them, he had her nose through a few pages, smell the paper, and hold it in her hand for a few moments. He wanted to make sure this was a book she could see herself reading — one that seemed a natural fit to her. When she would say something was not quite right, he would ask her what it was she liked and what it was she didn’t like about it, and made further suggestions from there. He was really doing everything in his expertise to make sure that he matched the right book with the right person.

Eventually, she found the right book. Then, he moved on to me. We went through a similar process, and I quickly discovered that I didn’t like the book I looked at earlier at all. What a bad decision that would have been! We looked through a few, and eventually, I made my choice as well.

I think we looked at 17 books all together. But at the end of the day, we each had exactly what we wanted.

 

I’m not someone who needs help shopping for books. I know what I’m doing there. But I need a lot of help shopping for rings (and, as many who know me would attest to, for clothes as well!). I need an expert to guide me through the process and really help me make the right choice.

Our students in our classrooms or our libraries are just like me in a jewelry store. They might know they’re supposed to get something, and they see others really enjoying their choices, but they just don’t know how to do it. So which employee are we: the one who gives a few choices, based on what we’ve read and enjoyed? Or are we the one who takes some time to get to know our students, and help them make the right choice for them, no matter how many books it takes?

I know which jeweler I’ll be going back to see.

Why I Close My Door

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

A couple months ago, I posted about Why I Keep My Door Open. It was nice to notice about myself, and got some nice feedback from those who read this blog. Thanks to those of you who read it and talked with me about it.

But I have to remember that, while I’m here to provide a caring, warm, safe environment for my students, I’m also here to teach them academic subjects. Some might say that’s my primary role. Some might disagree with that, and there’s a discussion worth having there (sort of the “I teach English” v. “I teach students” debate). But regardless of where that role is, it’s nonetheless a hugely important one.

So I reminded my students that I am available for them to come by and get any extra help they need. I gave them the times I’m available, one of which was before school every day. I come in at around 7; school starts at 8:10. They have time to see me if they need to.

Nobody really took advantage of this. A few dropped in here and there, but nobody made an appointment.

But today, I had a student in. His mom and I arranged a standing 15-minute session every Tuesday morning, just to touch base and cement some of the things he struggles with. It’s been working pretty well.

Normally, when I help him, I ask any other students in the room to give us some space while we do our work. This is easily accomplished, as my classroom is a double room, so they could be 30 feet away and still in the safe morning environment they have.

So then I thought: what if I didn’t do that today? What if I gave this student and his academic needs the respect he and they deserve? And what if I showed that to my other students?

So I told my students they had to get out. I had an appointment to help a student. They left. I closed the door. I heard them tell other students who tried to come in “we have to stay out here; Mr. Wyzlic’s helping someone.”

I wasn’t sure how that would go. Would they be upset they didn’t have that place they normally go? Would they understand that, because I’m a math teacher, sometimes math will supersede their morning hangout place?

They went one better: they saw a chance to be respected.

They guarded my doors, not letting any students in, so we wouldn’t be disturbed while we worked. And today, during class, three of the students who often are around in the morning asked me, individually, if they could come in in the morning to get some help.

“Of course,” I replied, with a smile.

A Review Session Worth Keeping

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

On Monday of this week, my students took a test. It didn’t go too well. It’s a pretty important concept (solving equations and inequalities), so it was more than worth it for us to take the week to review and cement some of the skills we needed. There were a lot of absences over the past couple weeks, including a day by me and 2 snow days, so this also served as a great chance to fill in some of the gaps individual students missed.

Tomorrow, we re-test. After 4 class periods of work, we’re ready. But that’s not what this post is about. That’s just teaching; it’s not blog post worthy.

This post is about our last class today.

We often do review activities before our unit assessments. We’ve done jeopardy-style games, practice tests, journaling. . .really anything we can do to review what we’ve learned and prepare to show what we know. Today’s last class was our review.

But today, I tried something different.

To start with, we put problems to solve on the walls. 20 in all. And they were all over the room.

Next, we had to equip ourselves. Calculators, paper and pencils, and our clickers.

Here were the rules:

  • Everyone answers every question, in any order they wish
  • When a student has answered all the questions, they are to see Mr. Wyzlic to see how they did
  • If they didn’t get them all correct, they are to go back and fix their mistakes

 

That’s still nothing worth blogging about. But there were more rules.

  • When a student gets all 20 questions right, they earn 2 points
  • They then are to go and help others
  • Everyone who helps another student earns a point
  • Everyone who accepts help from another student earns a point
  • Anyone who just “gives” an answer (even an incorrect one) loses a point
  • No students can earn points for helping until they’re finished

 

The person who gets the most points gets…I dunno, something. I think I actually said this in class. Then I said maybe candy or an extra credit point or something. We actually didn’t agree on a reward. Turns out we didn’t need one.

We talked about how to approach someone to help them, and how to accept the help. They were wonderful in practice. Then, it was time to let them loose.

It took a little bit, but once someone got all 20 right, they started falling like dominoes. Soon, I became busier than I thought I would be. I kept having students come up to me to see how they did, and then others coming up saying “Mariah helped me on two problems,” or “I helped Carson and Naomi.” Other things I overheard:

  • “This is easy!” — a student who often gives up before starting (it wasn’t as easy as he made it sound — he was just prepared, and it was a non-threatening environment)
  • “Finally!” — a student who all week was very vocal about not being able to do this, when she finished all 20 problems. Let that one sink in. She was so caught up in doing the work properly, that she was excited that she was finished. Getting all 20 correct was an after thought, like she expected to eventually get them all.
  • “Who needs help?”
  • “I need help!”
  • “James just helped Shelby, and Karli helped Trevor.”
  • Only mentioned once: “who has the most points?” They didn’t seem to care.

By the way, by the end of the hour, my 41 students had answered the questions at an 81% success rate. That’s over 30% better than they did on Monday. I’m excited for them to take this test tomorrow. But more than that, I’m excited for the culture of my classroom. We help each other. We build each other up. We’re in this together, and we’re here for one another. I could not be more proud of my 7th graders than I was today. Though I’m excited to see what they’ll show me next.

When Awesome Goes Wrong

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

You may have seen this video. You may not have. Watch it. It’s pretty awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWw0WEtZJRQ

How cool is that? This guy is not only passionate about his job, but also about his family. He loves both to the point where he had to put himself on the line for the benefit of himself, his family, and his audience.

But. . .did you catch it? The moment where it all goes horribly wrong? Watch it again. Here; I’ll even link it again. Be sure to watch it all the way through.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWw0WEtZJRQ

This man puts himself out there in a very difficult way. He’s doing something that is different, potentially embarrassing, but also no doubt a lot of fun to do. And then he’s done. His work has been shown, and those of us who are not him are left to react.

And his coworkers, oh, they react.

“I’ve gotta ask — what’s wrong with you?”

Well, I’m sure that makes him feel good about what he did. But that’s the sports guy. He’s supposed to represent some macho, I’m-not-going-to-sing-and-make-fun-of-those-who-display-passion-for-not-sports stereotypical guy, right? Surely the anchors will do better, right?

“Aunt Helen would look right you in the eye and say ‘there’s something wrong with that boy.’”

Laughter. Laughter. Laughter.

Even the weatherman gets in on the act, saying that his son looked at him with shame upon hearing the audio track. Because what position is he in to defend himself, when his coworkers are poking fun of him on the air? Of course he’s going to join in. It’s what we humans do if we put ourselves out there and are mocked. We join in on the mocking, so we are making fun of that thing we did, and detaching ourselves from it. “Look at that silly thing I did — good thing I’m not really like that, right guys?”

Did you catch what was lost in all this? You may not have heard it — I completely missed it the first time I watched.

“So good.”

Two simple words of praise, swept aside by the tornado of laughing mockery. It’s a lot easier to laugh and ask what is wrong with someone when they do something awesome and different than it is to offer your support. It’s even harder when the support is laughed under the table.

 

So why do I blog about this here, on the blog of a teacher? Surely the connection isn’t hard for you to make.

How often do we see this take place in our schools? How often does one student put himself or herself out there in a way that makes them feel good, but is clearly different from the norm? A student decides to sing his or her presentation. The football star is also in the marching band. The actor decides to try a spring sport instead of the spring musical. A typically low-achieving student does well on a test. Someone reads a book — and likes it.

What do we hear?

“Well that was strange.” “Look at the nerd!” “You did well — must have been a fluke!” A lot of laughter.

What do these things say?

“Don’t be different.” “Don’t try new things.” “Don’t ever do that again.” “You’re stupid.”

What are we, as teachers, doing to stop this in our hallways, in our classrooms, and perhaps from our own mouths? I don’t have the answer, but I do know we sure as hell can’t allow it to happen, even once, even in a small amount.

Because, let’s face it: the world needs more singing weathermen.

Why I Keep My Door Open

Posted: February 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

In my school, the first bell of the day rings at 8:05, and the first class begins at 8:10. Breakfast begins around 7:30, and most students are in and around the cafeteria or milling around the halls by 7:45. Our administrators are usually in the halls around 7:50, and a few teachers are out, keeping an eye on the students. However, most teachers are in their rooms, doors locked, prepping for the day. Many of our teachers have no prep hour, so their time before school is precious to them.

But the students, for those 20 minutes, don’t really have a place to be.

So my door: it’s open.

It was slow at first. A few 7th graders popped their heads in when they arrived, saying hi and talking for a few minutes before they went to the cafeteria to wait for their friends to arrive.

Then they stayed in my room for a little bit longer, and their friends met them in my room before they went off to eat breakfast.

After all, my door: it’s open.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been moving in my classroom library. This has required some student help schlepping boxes into the room in the morning. It’s been easy to ask a few students to come out to my car and help out. After all, they were in the room to begin with, and they grabbed some friends from the halls on the way out.

I barely even had to ask for help. After all, my door: it’s open.

Last week, even more students have been coming in my room before school starts. They help out: changing the dates on my board and straightening up the desks. Some have taken it upon themselves to take the chairs down from the night before.

And then the magic started happening. The 7th grade girls have decided to make my room their place to hang out. A couple boys tried to come in, and they said “No boys allowed!” To which I reminded them that I’m a boy, and I’m also in charge of my classroom, and they cannot ban anyone. So the boys came in. And they started talking. And, of course, I gave my input where it was appropriate. The students have come to respect me in ways other than as their math teacher.

Here’s the best part: while the students were talking in my room which at that point was set up for the day (despite that I hadn’t had to lift a finger), some students came by my desk to let me know of some things going on in their lives. I’ll respect their privacy here and not share the details, but it’s not things that would just come out during class. The students needed a safe zone. And now I have a greater rapport with them than I ever could have otherwise. I teach 40+ of them at once, which doesn’t leave a lot of space for building that student-teacher relationship. But I know that tomorrow, I will have bands to talk about with some students, parents to talk about with some students, and a safe place to extend to all students.

And that’s why my door: it’s open.