About Me

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San Clemente, CA, United States

Saturday, August 22, 2015


On Tuesday I begin my 24th year as a high school mathematics teacher and I still have the feeling of butterflies in my stomach.  The rush of standing in front of a crowd competes with the fear of standing in front of a crowd.  And don't tell me a classroom of 38 17 year olds isn't a crowd.  Hell, somedays its a gang.   If the past 23 years are any indication, I won't sleep for the next two nights.  I'll toss and turn and plan my day/week/semester/year.  

One of the reasons I like teaching public high school mathematics is because it provides me a fresh start every year.  For most people, life and work is a steady non-stop grind.  I get to enjoy a clear start date and I get to look forward to an end.  I like having a finish line.   I hit the tape, take a couple days off, and spend the summer playing golf and thinking about how to get better.

I have only one goal this year.  Perfection.

I want to pitch a perfecto.  27 men up.  27 men out.   Nothing even close.  Punch out 17.

I want to birdie every hole.  298 yard drive with a 10 yard draw right down the middle.  142 yard 8 iron that flies right at the stick.  8 foot putt with 3 inches of left to right break right in the back of the jar.

I want to score on a penalty kick, a breakaway, a long distance bomb, and I want to bend a corner around the goalie.

10 frames?  12 strikes.  300

I want to dunk on Michael Jordan as I beat him 11-0 in one on one.

I want the jury to award my client MORE than I asked for.

I want the doctor to tell me to start smoking because I'm too healthy.

I seriously want to be the perfect teacher.  I've won 3 Teacher of the Year Awards.  What else is there?  I want to be perfect.

No more popping off at a kid goofing off.  Calm and perfect.
No more colorful language in class.  Classy and perfect.
No more outward frustration when they act like kids.  They are kids.  Breathe and be perfect.
No more going home with anything left in the tank.
No more forgetting that I am there to serve there needs and help them achieve.

I want to be perfect.  Seamless transitions from funny to serious.  The perfect balance between rigor and reason.  I want to be tall and dark and handsome and every one of my words dripping with importance.   I want to have the greatest year since Plato opened the Academy.

1 comment:

  1. If you expect perfection, you are courting disappointment. Perfection is simply not possible when you are dealing with imperfect people. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. Not one of our students is perfect. The key is recognizing what you can do, and then do it. Keep your standards high, and then help the kid who cannot reach it. Above all, DON'T BLAME YOURSELF. If you do, you will tear yourself to pieces. You care about what you do. Your students are fortunate to have you.

    I hope that this doesn't sound to much like "feel good" pseudo-psychology. There are real problems, but teachers who care are not the problem. With a little luck, we can be the beginning of the solution - but it won't come by putting ourselves on a treadmill labeled "perfection".