Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Life Of A Math Teacher: House Tours

Don't you just love having a good look around someone else's house?

I do.

I'll gladly admit it. I first perfected the art form when I was a little girl at my grandmother's house.

Whenever I got tired of playing out back with my brothers - which mostly consisted of us beating each other over the head with wooden croquet mallets, so honestly, I was done with that pretty quickly - I would go back inside by myself and explore.

Touching and examining every knick-knack within reach.
Pulling open the drawers.
Checking inside the cupboards
Inspecting the bookcases.

And if I was feeling particularly brave, opening up the closets and exploring all the way to the back.

My third-born's Vietnamese bedroom. 
Better believe I snoop at my daughter's house too. 

I'll be honest. I still love going to visit people in their homes.

Not only is it interesting to see whatever is there to see, but I learn so much about the people who live there. Wandering around in a person's little slice of terra firma tells so much about who they are and what they value, and I really enjoy that intimate experience.

And you know, if I am down for noodling around other people's homes, then it's only fair that I let my visitors explore my house too.

Okay, so maybe these shapes might be the first clue that a geometry teacher lives here.

So this week has been really fun. As I am getting back on my feet after surgery, I've invited most of my students to come work here at my house for a session or two. In normal life, I meet with my students either in their homes or on neutral territory, so hosting our sessions at my house is a novelty indeed.

Now some of my students have known me for quite a while, and have already had a chance to come over and see what I'm all about.

But many of my newer students have never seen, or probably even imagined, my life outside of a math textbook.

where we work on math and get distracted by the cats who sit outside the door and stare at us. 

You know how that goes. Seeing your teacher outside the classroom is always so weird. My third-grade teacher lived in my neighborhood, and I felt wildly uncomfortable whenever I rode my bike past her house. Once I saw her looking out at me. Creepy.

And since my mom was a fifth-grade teacher in our local schools, many was the time that she and I would encounter her students around town, usually at the grocery store.  I found it such a fascination to watch them first adjust to the concept of "Whaaaaaaaat, my teacher eats real food??" and then stare at me in wide-eyed wonder while my mom introduced me as her actual human offspring.

Now, I'll be honest. High school math teachers are probably the bottom feeders of this phenomenon. We don't exactly stir up notions of excitement and colorful living; most of my students probably assume that in my spare time, I sharpen pencils, measure things with my protractor, and eat stale bread crumbs.

My origami twinkle lights. A worthy distraction.

So I love to watch my students as they walk into my home for the first time, and attempt to integrate the surroundings with their existing notions of who I am.

My two darling seventh graders today were a perfect example. In the midst of our scintillating discussion about solving systems of equations by elimination, I noticed that one of the girls was distractedly staring off in the direction of my kitchen sink.

"Do you have a question?" I gently nudged.

"Yes," she tentatively began. "Are those paper boxes over your twinkle lights actually origami balloons?"

"Go see for yourself," I encouraged. "Both of you. And while you're up, go check out the paper snowflakes in the living room."

My paper snowflakes. I love them madly.

Several minutes later, the girls returned, full of questions and comments about their explorations. After a bit more conversation about the pros and cons of organizing books by color, we settled back into our routine and finished our work.

But as the girls were leaving, I noticed that something had shifted between us. Sure, I was still their boring old math teacher but now they had a glimpse of me as a person. Certainly, they had always treated me with polite respect, but now, they seemed genuinely interested in finding out maybe a little bit more about what makes me tick.

So in the interests of forging human connections and taking our partnership to the next level, I hereby offer the girls a link to my blog, where now they will be able to digitally step inside my house and explore to their hearts' content.

Huzzah! Welcome, girls.

* * * * *

If you would like to wander around my house, please be my guest. 


  1. ;)
    I've subscribed to your blog!

    1. Awesome! Now you should start your own blog and I will subscribe to yours. :)

    2. I'm one step ahead of you.


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