Throwback Thursday?

Tina at Drawing on Math posted this, and I won’t lie to you…I used to be OBSESSED with these livejournal-originating stupid question surveys.  My best friend and I used to sit in the school library during our last hour free period and do these with each other until the librarian came and yelled at us for talking.

So I’m stoked for this to be my start-of-summer #tbt post.  I actually filled this out last week, but I’d already posted a lot of things and didn’t want to be that crazy teacher, so it’s going up IN THE FUTURE.

A- Age: 25
B- Biggest fear: people I love dying in tragic accidents, spiders.  Yeah.
C- Current time: 1:01 pm
D- Drink you last had: I literally just set my water bottle down.  I am a hydration machine.
E- Every day starts with: checking social media, and usually responding to texts from my non-teacher friends who have “normal adult bedtimes”.
F- Favorite song: Over and Out by 5 Seconds of Summer
G- Ghosts, are they real? No????  Yes????  The real answer is I don’t like thinking about it.
H- Hometown: Iowa City, IA
I- In love with: poetry, currently
J- Jealous of: ….not much, honestly.
K- killed someone?: Even if the answer was yes, do you really think a Livejournal survey is the place I’m going to choose to admit it?
L- Last time you cried?: 4th period, a student wrote “I learned to always keep trying, because you never let me give up while being in your class” on their end of year reflection paper.  Just try not to cry at that.
M- Middle name: Ann (there’s a really dumb story behind this that involves my dad being my favorite person)
N- Number of siblings: one
O- One wish: someone would just…gift me all the $$$ to go to grad school
P- Person you last called: My mom, I think.  I’m too lazy to to go check my phone.
Q- Question you’re always asked: What [assignments] am I missing?
R- Reason to smile: my students have honestly learned so much this year I’m so proud of them!!!
S- Song last sang: Wolves by One Direction
T- Time you woke up: 6:20…can’t wait to turn my school alarm off for the summer!
U- Underwear color: uh…blue?
V- Vacation destination: Megan (our JCL) and I really want to go to Australia/New Zealand next summer.  This summer, I’m headed to Nashville and possibly NYC
W- Worst habit: I think my stubbornness kind of covers everything.
Y- Your favorite food: Cookies!
X- X-Rays you’ve had: wrist, foot, knee, do CAT scans count? because like 3 of those on my brain, teeth
Z- Zodiac sign: Virgo


Look How Far We’ve Come!

At the end of every year, I have my students fill out reflection surveys.  It serves multiple purposes – in a practical teaching sense, it lets me know if they preferred textbook assignments, worksheets, or other activities, tells me the content they found easiest and most difficult for me to be able to improve the more difficult lessons for next year, etc.  It also gives them a chance to think about how much they’ve learned and the things they love about our school and my classroom, and a chance to air any grievances they might have.  In a very selfish way, it makes me feel good when they write nice things about me or bring up inside jokes from our classroom, or tell me that they’ve learned life skills that aren’t even about math.

It’s an idea I took from one of my field experience teachers at UNI that I will do every year that I teach because it’s just such a good end of year activity.  I tweak it slightly every year to make the questions more clear to what I want them to reflect on, but the overall gist stays the same.

The questions on the survey are:

  1. What did you learn in this classroom this year? What math concepts did you learn, what study strategies did you learn, what other random things did you learn through the course of our discussions and time together?
  2. What did you like and dislike about the COURSE (Sports Statistics, Algebra I, or Intermediate Math).  This should be specifically about the mathematics in the course, your textbook or assigned worksheets, etc.
  3. What did you like and dislike about Mid City in general, Miss Mastalio as a teacher, and the environment of the classroom? (You can be honest here, I will not be offended)
  4. Is there anything else you would like to tell me that doesn’t fit into one of the above questions?


I thought I’d share some of the statements that made me laugh, cry, or filled my heart this year.  I love these students so much and it’s always bittersweet at the end of the year to know that I won’t ever have this particular group of them together again.  They truly make my life so much richer by being in it.


Question 1:

“Even though some of the math problems [was] hard and difficult but with the help of you I got the understanding of it”

“Even though it was kind of difficult I pushed through it with help from Miss Mastalio”

“I went from always having a D to almost a B because I finally decided to get stuff done.”

“In testing, I learned not to stress out as much, to just let everything sink in and not think about it too much, also when you came across a difficult problem to skip it and then at the end go back.”

“I love the way you teach I feel like I really understand.”

“The Pythagorean Theorem was cool because Pythagoras was a murderer.” (okay, I may have told them stories about the Pythagoreans and how Pythagoras possibly had people killed who tried to claim their math findings for their own and they may have thought it was the most legit thing ever)

“I learned to keep trying because you never let me give up while being in your class.”


Question 2:

“What I really liked is when we would get assignments on the tables.” (I got this one several times, so it looks like that was a great idea)

“I found this course easy when I listened.”

“[when we went back and did the] 10.1 Rewind because she worked with us till the end because she had faith in us.”

“Some of the math gets to be a little hard to understand, but if [we] don’t understand it we just ask for help.”


Question 3:

“The stairs in the morning are 2 much” (I died laughing)

“Everyone is so understanding and helps out if you need it.”

“What I liked about Miss Mastalio was that she’s funny and easy to talk to.  This classroom was fun because of the people that were in it.” (did you hear that, I AM FUNNY!!!)

“Ms. Mastalio is really helpful and caring. She has also mastered the art of writing upside down. I’m glad she understands me and her other students.”

“I just don’t like Miss Mastalio at all.  She’s too annoying.  Nah, just playin’, she’s like my favorite teacher.”

“I like how Mid City has a daycare so I can bring my daughter and actually be able to come to school instead of having to drop out because of no place to have my daughter while I am at school.”

“Mid City is allowing me to graduate when I thought I wouldn’t be able to.”

“Teachers and staff really care and [are] there for you when you need help.”

“I like that I can be myself at Mid City”

“I like how everybody is friendly and gives you joy by caring.”


Question 4:

“I look forward to your class next year.”

“You should get a moped.  To me you just look like a teacher that rides a moped.” (okay, WHAT?!)

“That if it’s ok I want to come back to visit sometime…well A LOT!” (this one’s from a graduating senior and I really hope she does)

STEM Girls

I meant to make this post right after we got back from the field trip we took three weeks ago, but I was fighting death cold 3000 and didn’t have the energy, and then I forgot.


One of our science teachers and I took 5 girls to a conference at Iowa State called The Road Less Traveled.  It’s a day long conference for girls in STEM fields. They bring in experts from all sorts of careers – genetic biologists, mechanical engineers, computer programmers, civil engineers, and so on.  The students get to select sessions they’re interested in, and most of them are interactive looks at what the career actually is.

It’s a joy to see students in a setting that, although still “technically school” as they put it, is outside the classroom.  They become a bit more free in their conversations with both each other and with us as teachers.  I felt like I got to know them all a lot better in the long car rides there and back, and they got to know me better as well.

When we arrived in Ames the night before the conference, we took them to Hickory Park for dinner.  I couldn’t stop laughing when one of the girls asked me “Miss Mastalio, why are there fractions on these chickens?” in a panic because the menu gave 1/4 chicken and 1/2 chicken as options.  It was a good lesson opportunity on how math was everywhere…



We all had a great time coloring on the placemats and chatting, and both Ms. Meyers and I crashed immediately after getting back to the hotel while the girls hung out in their rooms. (Like I said, I was fighting death cold 3000).

When we got to the actual conference, our girls were very nervous about going to the sessions they’d signed up for by themselves.  We managed to convince them to give it a try after they enjoyed the opening keynote, and Meyers and I enjoyed a session on DNA sequencing that we were both really interested in, and then I met up with a friend who works at Iowa State during the second session.


When we got back together for lunch, I asked how their morning sessions went, and one girl said, “I found out I don’t want to be a computer programmer!”  She was actually really excited in explaining that she hadn’t enjoyed her session, but that she had figured out a career that she did not want to go into through that experience.  We had to put together a puzzle in order to get dismissed for food, which brought out everyone’s competitive side, including mine.  The taco bar was excellent, and then after lunch we got to play a GIANT Kahoot! trivia quiz with everyone.  Kahoot! is a favorite at Mid City, so we were all really excited to play with OVER 250 OTHER PEOPLE.  I sent a snapchat to some of our teachers back at school to show how impressed we all were with the size of the Kahoot! and Mr. Schneider decided to put the code in on his classroom computer and join our Kahoot! that was happening all the way in Ames – the students lost it when they saw his name pop up on the sign in screen.  None of us won, but we did place in the top 100, which we thought was pretty impressive.

One student convinced me to go to the afternoon block session she was signed up for with her, so we got to explore programming using the program Scratch.  She was much better at the animation than me, and I was more experienced in the coding part, so we combined our efforts to make some pretty fun programs!


The closing keynote speech was pretty amazing – she spoke about combining your passions to find the career that really fits you most – how you don’t need to fit into a pre-made mold to find a job, you can find or create one that fits YOU.  I think the students really saw how it followed the mindset we have at Mid City.

After the conference ended, we explored campus a little bit and had a photoshoot – including finding Jack Trice stadium open and sneaking in to take pictures on the field!  The girls all had so much fun and talked non-stop about their sessions and the people they met and the things they learned and saw for about the first 40 minutes of the drive home…until they were all fast asleep in the back.  One student said the trip was “the best day ever” and about three of them said they want to go to Iowa State now.  (Don’t worry, I’ll talk them over to the UNI side by the time they graduate)

I think the conference is such a great opportunity for 9-10th grade girls to really see college as an option – to see some of the different things they could do and paths they could take, to meet people who tell their stories of how they found their path, and to start to develop a goal to reach towards.


End of the Year Playlist.

The #EdBeat chat on twitter is not one I really participate in, but I’ve been kind of watching it from the sidelines, and this week’s questions are pretty much right up my alley, playlists for the end of the school year, so I’m in, even thought I’m late.  Someday I’ll get into a twitter chat live.

I love making playlists for various occasions – I have one I made at the start of 2016 to set the tone for my year, I made a playlist of all my students’ “theme songs” at the start of this school year, I have one from college that my roommate and I would use for one song dance party study breaks, I have one of chill music for when I’m reading or working, and I even have one for when I just need to be emotional about Harry Potter again.

So I was READY to make an end of the school year playlist.  It ended up being a bizarre mix of motivational songs to help push through the last days before summer, and sappy sentimental songs about how much I’ll miss my graduating seniors and this particular group of students.

You’ll probably be able to guess some of my favorite artists from this…

The Playlist, if you want to listen, is here.

Bring it all Back – S Club 7: don’t stop, never give up / hold your head high and reach the top / let the world see what you have got / bring it all back to you

Airplanes – 5 Seconds of Summer: I don’t ever wanna wait for this / I know that I was made for this / I won’t fade into dark

Back and Forth – State Champs: we can still be anything / I want the world to set you free / I hope your tears are drying on me / cause now I’m the person I wanna be

Little Me – Little Mix: you gotta speak up / you gotta shout out / and know that right here, right now / you can be beautiful, wonderful / anything you wanna be

See Me Now – Little Mix: they said I couldn’t, they told me that I wouldn’t / but if they could see me now / they’d see I’m something, that I’m not scared of nothing / and the world will hear me shout

Wings – Little Mix: cause wings are made to fly / and we don’t let nobody bring us down / no matter what you say – it won’t hurt me

Ain’t Got Time – M.O: I ain’t got time to worry about people / that don’t worry about me / I ain’t got time to listen to people / that don’t listen to me / I ain’t got time to care about people / that don’t care about me

(Un)Lost – The Maine: but I know I’ll take the leap / if it is worth the fall

Forget Me Not – Marianas Trench: but I wanted you to know / I still need you my friend … I’ll be your / forget me not

While We’re Young – Marianas Trench: wonder why does it / hurt to try when the / last goodbye is never / what we’re here for

Graduation (Friends Forever) – Vitamin C: as we go on / we remember / all the times we / had together / and as our lives change / come whatever / we will still be / friends forever

Drag Me Down – One Direction: all my life / you stood by me / when no one else was ever behind me / all these lights / they can’t blind me / with your love, nobody can drag me down

Girl Almighty – One Direction: let’s pray we stay young / stay made of lightning

Don’t Forget Where You Belong – One Direction: don’t forget where you belong / home / if you ever feel alone, don’t / you are never on your own

Outer Space / Carry On – 5 Seconds of Summer: the darkest night never felt so bright with you by my side … carry on, outlast the ignorance / moving on, survive the innocence / won’t be long / you know it’s gonna get better

In a World Like This – Backstreet Boys: in a world like this where some back down / I know we’re gonna make it … in a world like this where people fall apart / in a time like this where nothing comes from the heart / in a world like this / I got you

Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of) – Backstreet Boys: you gotta stand for something / even if you stand alone, don’t be afraid / it’s gonna be alright … when sunlight is fading / the world will be waiting for you / just show ’em what you’re made of

The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco: five in the air for the teacher not scared / to tell those kids … the world is theirs!

A Pensieve Full of Unrequited Love – the Mudbloods: I wish you peace and love and happiness in everything you do

Never Let it Die – Watsky: you might think that you’re ruined / you might think you’re defeated / if you love what you’re doing / you’ve already succeeded … so if you got a flame that’s blazing hot within / take a deep breath and feed it oxygen

The Most Appreciated!

I tell everyone I know so many times that I work at the best school.

This week proved it forever.

I really don’t need presents to feel appreciated – I get to work with an amazing staff of teachers, support staff, and administrators that make my job fun.  I get to teach awesome students who are constantly making me laugh and who really care about me.  I love my job so much.

But this week, I feel spoiled.  I am truly so lucky to work at Mid City.  Our non-teacher staff coordinated something for EVERY SINGLE DAY THIS WEEK in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.  I almost cried many times because it was just SO NICE.

Monday: everyone received a Mid City ID/key holder!

Tuesday: They filled the staff lounge with treats – the entire table.  Just so many cookies.  One of our paras brought everyone a little solar powered dancing flower.

Wednesday: Breakfast was brought in.  A student brought all of the teachers in the building cupcakes that said “You Rock”.  Service learning students potted and gifted all of the teachers impatiens with a lovely poem attached.  They left more flower seeds in our mailboxes.  A student in my advisory chose me to write the appreciation notes I asked them to write to.

Thursday: Service Learning students delivered Mid City water bottles to each of us with a note – two students wrestled in my doorway to get to be the one to give me mine.  They brought in enchiladas for lunch.

Friday: A student baked every teacher cookies.  We got Mid City tote bags with pop inside and a cute note.


I feel overwhelmed with all the appreciation.  My coworkers are the BEST.  I love the culture of our school.  It’s been a good week.

Teacher Appreciation

I vaguely remember Teacher Appreciation Week being a thing when I was a student.  I think my mom had me give cards to my favorite teachers or something.  As a teacher now, I regret not showing them that appreciation more – not in physical gifts necessarily, but in words.  I’d like to make up for that a little bit for this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week by choosing my TOP TEN K-12 TEACHERS.


Mr. Myers – Elementary Librarian

Mr. Myers always stopped me to talk about what I was reading.  After a few years, he would pass books along to me before he even cataloged them into the system.  He trusted me to let him know if other students would want to read it, and the ones that I said yes to, he slapped a barcode on and put on the shelf.  He made sure that each new Redwall book was in the library as soon as humanly possible and that I got it first, because I loved them.  I realize that it was his job, but he took so much extra time to personalize our interactions and I know he did that with many other students as well.


Mrs. Chapnick – Talented and Gifted

Mrs. Chapnick offered to “unofficially” tutor me in Pre-Algebra in 6th grade – taking it upon herself to work ahead of me in the textbook and meet with me once a week to check homework and answer my questions even though she wasn’t a math teacher, so that I could pass an exam at the end of the year and progress on to Algebra.  She didn’t have to do this.  They could have kept me in grade level math and just told me to wait it out, or had me learn it all on my own.  She volunteered to teach something out of her comfort zone just because it was the best thing for me.

Mrs. Gentzsch – Junior High Orchestra

Orchestra was just fun – and she encouraged me to make a string quartet with my friends and got us to learn Metallica on strings and wear weird outfits and go onstage and perform it.  We had a photoshoot of our quartet and gave her a framed picture of us – Heiss Kase – when we left in 8th grade.  She hung it on her wall.  It was a weird picture.  She didn’t have to display that.

Mrs. Hencke – Geometry

Fun Fact: Mrs. Hencke wasn’t ever supposed to be my teacher.  In 8th grade, my school didn’t offer geometry as an option since there were only 4 of us and that was “too small” for a class.  Busing to the high school was an “option”, but all of us were in too many electives that we didn’t want to give up.  So they told us we could hire a private tutor and pass an exam to get credit for geometry.  Our parents hired Mrs. Hencke.  She gave up 2 hours.  Every Sunday.  For a year.  We had class on Easter Sunday.  We blew up Peeps in her microwave.  I know our parents were paying her, but…still.  We had so many insane weird inside jokes from that class that I still reference when I talk to the other 3 students.  That was the first time I really considered that maybe math was a thing I’d like to keep doing for a long time.

Mrs. McLaughlin – Algebra II, AP Statistics

Here we have the moment I decided to become a math teacher – freshman year, in Algebra II Honors, with Mrs. McLaughlin having us play hilarious review games and putting me in groups with “scary” upperclassmen to force me to help them.  I had class with a lot of the same students when I took AP Statistics as a junior, but they weren’t scary anymore and they accepted me into their study groups and invited me to their graduation parties, even though they were so much more popular than I was, because she had put me in groups with them when I was a freshman.  She had so many inside jokes with our classes, one of which involved making paper octagons on the floor and pushing each other out of them as rewards for winning competitions.  She convinced me to join math club, which I eventually became the co-president of, and we told terrible math jokes in the van for hours on the way to competitions.

Ms. Pedersen – Math Club Sponsor

When she found out I was interested in teaching math, she offered to make me a teaching assistant in one of her lower-level classes.  I spent a period in her room every day my senior year, helping students who were behind or had missed lessons.  She gave me an incredible opportunity that made me fall in love with teaching.  After that, there was no option besides teaching for me.  I never even had her for a class.

Herr Lower – German I-IV

I mean, I can speak another language because of him.  He took us to Germany for a month.  I know more German history than US History because we did a whole unit, IN GERMAN, about German history and he made it fun and interesting so that I still remember a lot of it.  He made us memorize poems in German and write skits in German, and our class would have competitions to see who could make everyone laugh the most with their skits. I wish I could explain to you any of the weird German inside jokes that still make me laugh hysterically.  Und wie.

Mr. Muilenburg – Honors Physics, Honors Chemistry, Freshman Science

This was the only class I struggled with at all in high school.  He didn’t spoonfeed you a bit – lots of students got frustrated because he “wouldn’t answer questions”, but I learned through 3 years of having him to go up to his desk and just KEEP ASKING THE QUESTION in as many different ways as possible until his eyes would widen and I would realize I had talked myself onto the right track for the solution.  He made us figure it out ourselves, because he knew we could.  When I went back to visit several times during college, he always tried to convince me that I should teach physics instead of math.

Mr. Koepnick – Biology

I honestly don’t remember a lot from biology except for that osmosis is only for water and diffusion is for other things, and that we killed our patient during mini med school (oops), but I do remember Mr. Koepnick being the most supportive person once I decided to become a teacher.  He continually showed so much interest in my field experiences and student teaching and what I was learning.  He would tell me that the way I was talking about my classes made him convinced I would be a great teacher, brought me to the principal, and told him to put me on their teaching candidate shortlist.  During my job search he spent his whole prep period telling me pros and cons of different types of schools to teach at.  I saw him at the end of my first year of teaching and he told me how much he looked forward to the classroom anecdotes I shared on facebook.  Last year on World Teacher’s Day, he wrote on my facebook wall that he was proud of me and I cried.


Mrs. Smirl – AP Calculus

She made us laugh in class, she was such a good TEACHER, like, her delivery of content was amazing.  When I got to college, I realized I understood calculus so much better than almost all of my fellow math majors, and it wasn’t because I was smarter than them.  It was because she taught us so well.  I didn’t even realize how nerdy it was to have a favorite calculus rule (L’Hospital’s Rule) until I was taking Calc III at UNI, because our entire high school class was obsessed with it.  She made sure to tell everyone that I was going off to college, and I was coming back to take her job when she retired.  Every time I see her, she asks about the people from my class that she knows I still talk to – she knew so much about each of us and truly cared and wanted us all to succeed, and she can give me updates on most of our class almost 7 years later.


All of these teachers CARED so deeply about me, and about everyone in our classes.  I remember how they treated me and the jokes they made and the ways they made lessons memorable.  I guess my goal is to someday make it into some student’s Teacher Appreciation Week sappy blog post.  That would be great.

Or if they’re talking about their high school days, for them to just be like “remember when Miss Mastalio would always use the Packers as examples in class because she loved them?”  That’d be cool.  I’d love that.

But I’ll also take, “What classes are you teaching next year, cause I want you to be my math teacher.”


“When you explain it it sounds easy.”


“Do you want one of these cookies?”

Yeah.  I’ll definitely take those.