Not My Words

It’s week 3 of the #MTBoSBlogsplosion 2017!!! I’m really loving this challenge to blog more, and discovering blogs of amazing math teachers through the summary posts.

The challenge for this week is “Read and Share“. Read some blog posts from other teachers, and share their words. I am so excited for this challenge, because it gives me the perfect opportunity to go back through some of my feedly tag folders and read posts I haven’t read in a long time. Click the first word of any quote to read the whole post.


These are about the WHY of teaching. The heart wrenching stuff, the hilarious stuff, the moments that keep me coming back every day even on the days I want to quit. I hope they help you remember those parts of the job.


If you’re not reading One Good Thing, stop right here and head over there. These stories of finding the (at least) one good thing from every day of teaching are often hilarious, sometimes a struggle to find the thing, very real, and make me cry more often than I’d like to admit. I love this one from right before break:

Those are the real victories, my Teacher Loves. Those and so much more that you and only you know because your classroom is a safe place for kids to share their thoughts, their worries, their triumphs, and their fears.



I’m breaking the challenge rules a tiny bit because Love, Teach is not a math teacher, but I think pretty much everyone knows and loves her blog, and this post is one that I think about. Often. This paragraph felt like she reached straight into my own heart and pulled it out (I also wrote a post in response to Orlando that was very inspired by this one):

I care about all of this so deeply because of you. Teaching has fundamentally changed me, is changing me, and it has to, because I spend hours every week interacting directly with kids who represent a vast array of beliefs, values, and experiences. I love each of you so much that sometimes I think I’m in actual danger of my heart exploding out of my chest, and more than anything I just want all of you to live in a world where you feel safe and strong and valued, because feeling safe and strong and valued makes it easier to be brave and kind and inclusive. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, we need more of that.


Jonathan Claydon‘s posts often challenge me to think hard about curriculum and question design, but this one is more of the chills-all-the-way-down-your-spine types. Because you relate to it so hard. And this job is sometimes so hard, emotionally.

This is supposed to be a job? It’s just work?

But also, sometimes his posts just make me laugh. A lot. You all know how important it is to have fun in your classroom, right? Right?

43. Draw a kitty in a spaceship. Yes, you read that correctly. DRAW THE KITTY.

And here are 12 cats piloting spaceships, because I know what you want:


This one from Dan Meyer inspired me to do a bottle flipping project in my Sports Statistics class, which the students LOVED:

I didn’t think there was a useful K12 math objective in bottle flipping. My commenters served their usual function of setting me straight.


Tracy Zager has some lessons about how often we explain away our students’ interesting ideas because they don’t follow the formal mathematics we’re familiar with:

I drew the squiggly lines and asked who thought they were straight. A few hands went up. Abby raised her hand halfway, then put it down. She said, “I made up a new word for that kind of line. It’s vertiwiggly.”


I’m in love with Ben Orlin’s Math With Bad Drawings. I kind of want to wallpaper my classroom with them. Whenever a new one is posted, you never know if it’s going to be hysterical, inspirational, or hard hitting and challenging. Possibly all three. These are some favorites:

Graham’s Number can be defined by human symbols, but never fathomed by human minds. The notation can reach what the mind cannot grasp.

(my students have loved the concept of Graham’s Number when I’ve presented it to them in class)

But I can hate this view, this toxic meme, which I believe is latent in our stereotypes of mathematics: this belief that generating new mathematical ideas is man’s highest calling, while wallowing in old ideas is grunt-work fit only for mules, washouts, and the dim bulbs we call teachers.

I would love to quote the entirety of this post on why we learn math, but…just go read it:

Mathematicsis a safe playground with all the richness of reality.


And this post on sharing other people’s words would be incomplete without a nod to Sarah Carter. There are too many posts I could have chosen to include from her, but honestly one of my favorites is this one, where she shared incredibly detailed pictures from her classroom of all the posters. I always find myself looking in the background of people’s pictures from their classrooms, trying to see how they decorate and set things up. Sarah brought this gift to me so that, at least for one other teacher’s classroom, I get to see everything.

Whenever I read other blog posts where people share pictures of their classroom, I’m always left wanting more.  I want to see every single thing hung on the wall.  I guess you could call me nosy.  😉  So, I set out to write the blog post I would want to read.


Author: missmastalio

Math teacher at an alternative high school. Living the best life.

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