That’s how many files you accumulate in 4 years and a week of teaching, apparently.


That’s how many files were NOT on my flash drive when I plugged it into my computer to print something this morning.

My flash drive asked me to format it for use. Luckily, I know a moderate amount about technology and knew that if I did that, I would likely be losing my chance of ever seeing all of my files again. I clicked no.

Somehow, I managed to refrain from bursting into tears on the spot. I googled ways to recover files. I sat and stared at the screen for ten minutes straight. I realized I couldn’t try any of the recovery methods until I got home, because I don’t have administrative rights on my school computers. I went to plug it in to my classroom computer (I was in my office) just to see if it was the computer. It wasn’t.

The bell rang, the day started. I, somehow, did not cry the whole day. I told each of my classes that we were kind of winging it today, that my flash drive had deleted every file I had ever made for them. They were incredibly kind. (I almost typed “stunningly kind” there, but it is no longer stunning to me how incredibly kind my students are in all circumstances whenever anyone is having a tough time. They are the best people. They love so much.) In most of my classes, we had printed notes yesterday to glue in their INBs, and so my students helpfully read me the examples for me to copy on the board so we could solve them together – the reverse of a normal classroom, almost. One activity I did with one class was on the district curriculum in Google Drive, so I found that. The assignment I had projected on the board for Algebra 2 to start at the end of yesterday I had uploaded to their Google Classroom, so I found it there to project it again for today.

Teaching is a profession of rolling with the punches. You can teach through almost anything. Today, I taught through thoughts of having to recreate from scratch every activity, every notes file, every assessment that I had lovingly created in the last four years. I taught through not having materials for students who were absent a few days ago. I taught through thoughts of my grad school application essay (I’m already in the program, but I was very proud of the essay) and my first year teacher end of year district celebration speech being gone forever.


I told Heather, with whom I share an office, and she mourned with me for a minute, knowing she couldn’t do or say anything to fix it. I told other coworkers throughout the day who asked how my day was (I make it an intentional practice to not lie in answer to that question, so today, all day, I said “my day is going pretty terribly”.) I got condolences and offers to send me the files that other teachers had – even if they weren’t my own, they might be something helpful. One of our teachers contacted a friend who repairs computers and updated me throughout the day with ideas to try.

At lunch, I posted on facebook a call for help – did anyone know how to recover files from a flash drive? I described the situation and the messages I was getting to the best of my ability. My sister directed the message to friends of hers. Fellow teachers expressed their remorse. I got some things to try, and some people gave me a list of places to back my files up to in the future. (I feel like such an idiot for not backing up. I know I should. I guess I thought I was invincible because I understand technology fairly well.) A student who graduated in May directed the message to another student who graduated recently, who works with computers. My heart was somewhat buoyed by the knowledge that so many people understood how devastating this situation was, and wanted to try to help.

I watched my principal’s face fall at the end of the day when I told him what had happened, as I was leaving immediately to go try to save things.


The fix suggested did not work, but it gave me an error message that I was able to find later in that same help thread and try another thing, which did work. My files were back and I immediately burst into tears of relief. All of my work was there. All of the games, and notes, and assignments, and resources that I had spent four years carefully selecting to fit my students that I love so much, were back on my screen.

I immediately backed them up. They now live on the original flash drive, on my personal Google Drive account, on my school Google Drive account, and on a new flash drive that one of my coworkers so incredibly kindly gifted me today.


The lessons from today:

  1. BACK. YOUR. FILES. UP. Seriously, if you do not have a backup for your teacher files, please, please, please do it today. Make sure they are in at LEAST two different places, and preferably one cloud storage place that you can access from anywhere.
  2. My students are incredible and kind and forgiving – and they WANT TO LEARN MATH. They could have tried to use this as a way to not do any work today – and some of them halfheartedly suggested it, but then they dutifully shared the equations with me and helped me recreate today’s lesson so that it was as close to my original intent as possible. They also expressed concern and remorse and shared stories of times their phone lost all their contacts or all their photos.
  3. My coworkers and friends are so loving and helpful and kind and caring. I am so lucky to have them in my life. I should mention that the coworker who checked in with me throughout the day is one that I do not always get along with even – but when I was clearly in distress, they were there for me unhesitatingly. The amount of celebratory snapchats I got when I posted that I had recovered the files was astounding. I have great people in my life.
  4. I am so proud of the work I have done the last four years. Today made that abundantly clear. Sure, I could have recreated everything as we went through this year. But I have made some resources that I TRULY love, ones that I think have really made a difference in student understanding and outlook on math. I want to continue to use them. I was devastated when I lost them. I have had worse days teaching for sure, but this was definitely towards the bottom.
  5. BACK. UP. YOUR. FILES. I’ll say it again because I don’t want you to go through the day I just went through. Back ’em up. Do it for me. Comment if you did.

Mathematicians Can Be… (Bulletin Board Resources)




I’ve been struggling a lot with the Charlottesville situation, and other hatefulness that I’ve watched unfold across the country over the summer. I teach at a building full of students that already feel like they don’t belong in society, who are marginalized for one reason or another. They don’t feel accepted, they don’t feel represented, etc.

They come to our building hoping to find a place they can belong, and I think for the most part they find that here.

I was trying to think of any way I could contribute to that environment of accepting, how I could send a message that says YOU BELONG HERE. WE WANT YOU.

This is what I came up with – it’s a small thing in the big scheme of things, but I think it will matter. Too often, our students come in with the idea that math is a thing that is already complete. That some old, dead, white dudes made up centuries ago and has stayed the same ever since.

I want them to start seeing math through my class as a living, breathing entity that is still being explored, discovered, and created today – in many different ways, by many different people.

This bulletin board was born from inspiration from a few other math teachers sharing their resources on diverse mathematicians (like this and this) – and I set off to try to include groups of people that I know my students will identify with. I want them to start seeing themselves as mathematicians. Hopefully this helps in that endeavor.


Ignore my awkward waving pose in the mirror…IMG_1629IMG_1630IMG_1631

Hoping there will be more selfies like this by my students!

I’ve already had some positive responses from people about the board, including people ON the board (which is crazy to me)!



Here are some closer images:








Notice that there are many more people of color throughout the board, but I picked one mathematician to specifically list with that title.


























Here you can download a list of the mathematicians I placed under each category and the slides I created for each mathematician. Both of those files will direct you to make a copy of them to your own Google Drive so you can make any changes you would like to them! I tried to make the bios easily understandable for any high schooler to read. There’s also the attribute titles that I created (PDFPublisher). The board title and the YOU under the mirror were made with a Cricut machine. The mirror is from Dollar Tree!

You’ll notice that I included myself on the board – I debated this for a bit, but decided it was important for my students to see their teachers as also being professional mathematicians (and not as somehow settling for being a teacher or something). Please alter this slide to include yourself! You could talk about your favorite subjects to teach, how you teach, the math you most liked learning…endless possibilities! I included some of my research I’ve been a part of but yours could definitely focus more on your classroom!

Edit: Someone brought to my attention that if you are British and decide to use this…Andrew Wiles would not be foreign! 🙂

If you use these resources to create your own version of the bulletin board, I would love to see pictures! Tweet them @MissMastalio!

Staff Eclipse Party!

Our first staff day back in the building was today: August 21, 2017. AKA the day of the solar eclipse.

Some of the science department and I have been especially excited about it all summer, and when we learned that we had classroom work time during the eclipse hours, we decided to go full on eclipse.

Mrs. Kormann, Mr. Schneider, Mrs. Hughes and I did a shortened lunch break and hurried back to the building to get set up.


At first, there was just the few of us out in the parking lot, getting Mr. Schneider’s telescope (with solar filter) set up and watching the first bits of the sun disappear. I was so excited, I just kept blurting out observations the whole time. “THE SUN LOOKS LIKE A COOKIE!” was my first at this point, because it looked like someone had just bitten off a corner of it!

Slowly, we drew a crowd. Eclipse glasses were passed around, and turns were taken at the telescope as Mr. Schneider worked to keep the Sun centered every half minute or so. It was really remarkable to be faced with the reality of the Earth’s constant motion!

If you were really careful, you could take pictures through the telescope. Mostly, I tried to just take it all in, but I did take a few!

These were mostly at “Oh my gosh, it looks like the Moon, but it’s the SUN!” stage, although one is at “It’s a thumbnail!” stage!

It was so fun to get the chance to nerd out and talk about all the cool things happening with my coworkers. We had a max totality of about 91% in our area, and the degree to which you could see it getting darker and feel it getting cooler was crazy! The cicadas all came out in full force because they thought it was dusk, and everything else got eerily quiet.

I’m determined to get to the path of totality for the next one…