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A colleague who I will miss

January 10, 2008 am31 11:01 am

The teacher in my department who plans with me is leaving.

It’s good for her. Her husband got a much better job out to Alaska, moving from flying small planes to jumbo jets. And they had been waiting for years. It’s a good move. She’ll land a job, quick, teaching math.

we split the prep. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be able to pick up materials Monday morning, never having laid eyes on them, and know that you can teach with them.

But I am miserable. We have worked together four years. She arrived as a second year teacher, and I was nervous. We team taught an algebra class her first term. I should do a study. The kids from that class, I think they mathematically outperformed their peers in mathematics for the balance of high school. It went that well.

She started out ok. Every year she got better. She brought patience to the classroom, combined with a real interest in math, and a real knowledge of math. She had this knack for making math “non-scary” for kids, while keeping strong content. I brought my set of games to the classroom. And she brought hers.

more beneath the fold —>

She read the silly math teacher stuff, and sat through the ed courses, and ignored the chaff and out of the good stuff developed some kick-ass projects. (we give a lot of projects). Laugh if you will, but I will continue assigning math autobiographies. I will make my geometry students make up fake period newspapers with interviews of famous mathematicians. When I have Algebra 2 again, I will do linear programming projects. Escher-esques for geometry. Design your own city. I already liked this kind of stuff. She added so many ideas.

But I make it sound like a competition. It was anything but. What I did, I shared. What she did, she shared. We share a room, by choice. We share materials, equipment, ideas. This year we both taught geometry and algebra, and we split the prep. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be able to pick up materials Monday morning, never having laid eyes on them, and know that you can teach with them. We gave that to each other.

Sometimes, post-test, we ask about grading. “How many points did you deduct for x…?” And after five years, we might be one point off, might be exact. I was preparing a test earlier this evening, one we modify a bit every year. And I’m looking, “who wrote this question?” “Did I modify that?” “Whose bonus is this?” This is five years of successful and growing collaboration.

A little more, really. I taught pre-service Teaching Fellows for a few years. And she was one of my students. She worked at a miserable place her first year. I remember thinking, she should change, but she shouldn’t come to my school. Can you believe that? And now I am overwhelmed by the thought of teaching without her nearby.

We will hire properly, following all the rules, open market, for September. In the meantime we will scramble to cover her classes. I might pick up extra algebra. I’d like that. I’d like to take care of some of her classes for her. And I’d like to get students who have been so well instructed.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2008 pm31 8:35 pm 8:35 pm

    She probably learned from the best!

  2. January 12, 2008 am31 7:23 am 7:23 am

    I agree about learning from the best. Also think about the other teachers (and students) she’ll influence in her new school. Hopefully her replacement will bring a new set (of equally valuable) ideas. Change is never easy though, is it?


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