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The best and worst day to be a teacher.

March 22, 2009

The Best

Pi Day!!! (March 14th… 3.14, which fell on a weekend, so my class celebrated on the 13th.)

Yeah… it was over a week ago. But seriously? How can any math teacher NOT celebrate Pi Day? One day out of your curriculum to combat math’s reputation as the most boring subject in school! (I made cookies of the first 30 digits of pi, my students brought in round food, and we did this: http://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-Pi-by-Throwing-Frozen-Hot-Dogs, only with pencils, because 8th graders and hot dogs? Would lead to some seriously inappropriate behavior. I’m just sayin’.) 

Plus, if you’re both a math nerd AND a word nerd? It’s the punniest day of the year.

We were Pi-rates. The top of the hat says A=pi(Arrrr)squared, and C=2pi(Arrrr)

We were Pi-rates. The top of the hat says A=pi(Arrrr)squared, and C=2pi(Arrrr). I gave my Geometers extra credit for taking pictures of themselves wearing these hats in public on Saturday. They totally did it.

The Worst

My Pi Day  celebration coincided with Pink Friday, which explains my shirt (I know, the pronunciation is a stretch). 128 teachers in my district got RIF notices (a.k.a. preliminary, nothing-is-final-till-May pink slips.) That number doesn’t include me, because I am temporary, covering for someone who may never actually return from maternity leave. This puts me even lower on the magical totem pole of seniority than those teachers who received pink slips.

It’s sort of a strange situation to be in. The entire time I was working on my credential, I kept hearing about how in-demand good math teachers are, and how I would never have to worry about finding a job. And that’s true… mostly. There are still jobs out there, and I’m not worried about being employed, somewhere, next year. But I thought my credential would keep me safe(r) from budget-related layoffs than other teachers. Not the case – one way they’re looking at cutting costs is by eliminating the 20-1 ratio in 9th grade math and English. That means our high schools will need fewer math teachers. Since they can teach what I teach, they’ll be offered my job before they’re laid off. While I understand the seniority thing, it makes me sad. I want to stay in my district. I want this year’s 8th graders to know where to find me next year. I want to work with the amazing teachers and administration I’ve gotten to know and rely on. I have had the best circumstances I could imagine for my first year of teaching, and I just want to stay put. Grump.

It’s worse for a lot of other people. Layoffs in elementary schools are likely to be much more widespread than in secondary schools. Pink slips for multiple-subject credentials went back to 2001 in our district. Those jobs will likely be harder to find. And I don’t have a mortgage, or children to worry about.

So… it was a hard day. But a good day. I was about to say “I believe strongly in making the best out of bad situations,” but really, who doesn’t believe in that? More specifically, I believe in making crappy days better by eating cookies and playing dress-up with 8th graders. Try it sometime, it totally works.

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