Dating by Text

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Online Dating” by Kevin Simmons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I have endured a harrowing three months. I had emergency surgery, the county I live in has dealt with the largest fire in California’s history, and I seriously tried online dating. The emergency surgery was a big deal at the time, but I seem to be fully recovered. And, the Thomas Fire is ongoing, so I can’t fully comment on its affect other than you can feel it is taking a toll on people everywhere you go, even the ones who didn’t lose their homes. Now, I agree that the third thing listed there shouldn’t be a big deal, but in today’s charged male/female climate, it can be described as nothing less than depressing and fully shocking. When I say I tried online dating, I went all in. I signed up on 3 different sites thinking I had to meet at least one person I connected with. I had a very good filtering system set in place, and I knew what I was and wasn’t looking for. For example, if the dude had pictures with his shirt off and flexing, he was gone. But even with good filters, the experience has left me feeling as though at 43, I may be single forever. And, considering the type of men I met in the last 3 months, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’m going to tell you about three of them here, so you can witness what women are up against.

Om._Kian Kashani_Flickr
Om.” by Kian Kashani is licensed under CC BY 2.0

About a month into online dating, I met what I thought could be the one. His pictures actually told a story, and I was instantly drawn to him. When we started emailing, he revealed that he was a retired cop (bonus points- I love cops) and a teacher. The getting to know you seemed to be going great, until I went into the hospital for emergency surgery. While I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, we texted nonstop. It was at that time that I mentioned that I meditate every day, and he responded that the only type of meditation he’d practiced was OM. I had never heard of OM, but I can tell you after looking into it, that isn’t at all like the meditation I practice. Within a week, I stopped hearing from him, and when I reached out to inquire why, I never heard from him again. This is a recurring theme in today’s mock dating world: no explanations, no goodbyes, just straight up cold shoulder.

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wheelchair lovers” by Tim & Selena Middleton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The second guy I met seemed very cool in the beginning. He suggested we share 5 interesting facts about ourselves, and he loved my 5 facts. One of his facts was that he owns land in Scotland, so he is actually a lord- not too shabby. But, then came the big reveal; he said he needed to tell me that he is in a wheelchair from a dirt bike accident that happened 20 years ago. My first thought was “that’s new,” and I was sort of impressed with myself. I have never been presented with that kind of obstacle before, but I wasn’t going to let it dissuade me from getting to know him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too much later, like 15 minutes, that he revealed he can’t go through the dating rituals that most people do; he said he needed a visual and sexual connection right away and then his heart would follow. I think my first response was “huh?” And, so he went on to explain that he’d need to see how his body responded to mine and how I took direction, to which I asked what kind of direction I’d need. We spent days texting back and forth about how this was what he needed and what he knew in his heart was the way it had to be. I kept saying I wasn’t sold. After less than a week of texting nonstop every day, he vanished.

truth mural on side of building 02_radcliffe dacanay_flickr
truth mural on side of building 02” by radcliffe dacanay is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now, the third and final guy I’m going to tell you about isn’t nearly as interesting as the previous 2, but he was still curious case study. He too would message me nonstop, although there was nothing romantic or sexual about his messages. He was constantly going on and on about how all the news channels lie and cannot be trusted to deliver any type of true news. During a conversation about the Thomas Fire, which he had been evacuated from, I mentioned the smoky skies being our new normal. To this, I got a page long diatribe about how climate change isn’t real, and it was just cooked up by politicians and news organizations. This immediately set off some warning bells considering I stand with the 97% of scientists who have gone on record acknowledging climate change has been exacerbated by humans. Despite that, I decided to give him another chance. Although within a day, he was going off about different government plots, to which I replied, “do you look for a conspiracy in everything?” As you might imagine, that didn’t go over well, and I received many angry texts in response about how he loves doing research and is a seeker of the truth. I told him I appreciated his love of research, but that I think sometimes too much can lead people to only see the darker side of life. And, with that, I never heard from him again.

love in sprinkles” by Jamie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

So, what did I learn? Well, I’m still putting all of that together. I think it may take a while for dating relations to return to or evolve into a friendlier or even more conscious experience. It is as if people think of the getting to know you process as a disposable one. There are so many options on dating sites that one can throw someone away and have a replacement within a few minutes. Considering I’m approaching my mid-forties, this is not the type of dating I was prepared for. In my day, if you gave someone your number and began texting nonstop it meant you liked each other and would actually go on a date. Did I mention that in all of the above experiences I never met any of those men? I guess it’s easier to walk away and have a shallow text relationship if you never meet the person. But, it leaves me wondering what on earth are all of these men looking for on these dating sites?


Paradigm Shift in Teaching

If you want to be inspired and gain valuable insight into how to teach the youth, look no further than Sir Ken Robinson. In the video above, Sir Ken is speaking about the current model of education and how it is stifling our students. He speaks about our society needing to prepare students to be active members in globalization, and he begs us to stop telling students they are either academic or non-academic. These are the same exact things that math teachers need to keep in mind, because all students are able to learn mathematics. We can no longer let students believe they just aren’t good at math.

common core cartoon_by WWYD_Flickr
common core cartoon” by WWYD? is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Common Core Standards have an interesting common ground with what Sir Ken Robinson is discussing in the above video. He mentions that schools need to foster divergent thinking instead of just hammering one way to learn a subject. Common Core is very similar, because it is changing the way students are taught  to do things. Common Core wants students to think outside the box and solve problems with a variety of strategies. As Sir Ken said, divergent thinking is the capability of seeing many different answers to a question, not just one answer.

2012-240 by DeniseKrebs_Flickr
2012-240 #6WordMission by Denise Krebs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If teachers want to see their students prepared for a future that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet, they must embrace the divergent thinking that Sir Ken Robinson speaks of. We want our children to be able to solve problems without becoming overwhelmed with a lack of confidence in finding the solution. They must be taught problem solving skills early on, and learn that not everything will be handed to them. Our students are resilient when we let them be. Teachers must instill in students the belief that they can solve a problem and that it is okay to ask for help.

ADHD” by Practical Cures is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I found the part about ADHD in Sir Ken Robinson’s speech very fascinating. It is true that more and more children are being diagnosed every day. As teachers, we have all seen the students who are not able to sit through circle time or even lunch. But, is medication the answer? Sir Ken Robinson seems to think that medicating our children is not the answer. He even goes as far as recommending that we not put children to sleep with medication, but instead waking them up. That means teachers must find ways to challenge and engage the students who are fidgeting and unable to sit still, because Sir Ken is correct, this is the most stimulating time on Earth. And unfortunately, it is only going to become more distracting.

Exploring the Common Core State Standards

I don’t know why, but the Common Core Standards have always seemed elusive and difficult to explain. Beginning in 2010, many states in our country began adopting Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The standards create strong benchmarks for English Language Arts/Literacy and Math, and they are for grades K-12. The standards are designed on an ascending scale where students learn a skill one year that helps them move up the scale the following year. The CCSS describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject and in each grade.

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Fractal Rhombic Ring” by fdecomite is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For many years, people complained about different levels of education that were offered in different states and about our country’s less than stellar national report card. The goal of CCSS was to make things consistent from state to state and school to school. So, if a family had to move suddenly to a new state, their children wouldn’t be lost in the transition of changing schools. Instead, students are now able to pick up where they left off in their previous school. The standards have been adopted in 42 states, and encourage higher levels of thinking than previous national tests.

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kindergarten, in session” by woodleywonderworks is licensed under CC BY 2.0  

With any change, there is resistance, and the CCSS have had their fair share of critics. One of the major complaints of the standards is that they left teachers too focused on standardized testing, and they started “teaching to the test”. When teachers only focus on what will be covered on a high stakes test, students end up with wide gaps in their education. Tied in with that same complaint is that teachers only focus on English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics, because that is what students will be tested on. Other subjects like art, history, science, physical education, and music have fallen by the wayside.

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Playground” by Brisbane City Council is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I recently spent 15 hours in a 1st grade classroom doing some fieldwork observation hours, and I was surprised at the structure of the school day. The two subjects being covered throughout the day were English Language Arts/Literacy and Math. On the last day I was there, the teacher introduced some Science booklets, but she made the focus about writing instead of something cool, which is what science is all about. There was so much writing and work involved that I worry a good number of students will become disillusioned with school. Also, the amount of time students are allotted for recess seems painfully short. I believe the CCSS are good in their foundation, but it seems like a lot of bugs still need to be worked out.


Success for All

We have all had that one student whose name we are constantly saying, notice I didn’t say shouting, throughout the day. Whether it is because they aren’t following directions, or they aren’t performing like the rest of the students, these are the students who need a different approach. One of the biggest challenges I have found as a teacher is to regard each student as an individual with his or her own individual learning needs. This is hard work; it takes planning and a lot of practice. It is even more important when it comes to the subject everyone loves to hate, math. Because I know it is so vital, my personal philosophy is Success for All. Having this philosophy reminds me to think of each student’s needs and to come up with differentiation strategies that can provide individualized support.

success” by Bensign is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Principles and Standards for School Mathematics list 6 principles that should be in place for high quality mathematics instruction to take place. The first is the Equity Principle, and it states that excellence in mathematics education requires equity: high expectations and strong support for all students. Equity is a powerful word. It means that all students, no matter what their background, physical ailments, or personal characteristics, should receive the right amount of support and opportunity to be successful in mathematics. This principle is also a reminder that kids don’t fail on their own; they fail because a teacher gave up on them. It is our job as teachers to find the right solution for each student’s learning needs. Equity also means we set out to attain equal outcomes for all students.

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balance scale” by winnifredxoxo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

My personal philosophy Success for All is in alignment with the Equity Principle, because both have high expectations for all students. I will work my hardest to always offer differentiated lesson plans, so that every single student has the opportunity for success. With my philosophy, I will also make sure to let my students know I believe in them, because sometimes a little bit of confidence is all a student needs to break out of a negative thought pattern; and, we all know the negative thought patterns that have been associated with mathematics. Finally, I will incorporate real life applications, because they appeal to all students, and they are useful in everyday life.

All the wisdom contained in this post came from Chapter 6 in Elementary and Middle School Mathematics Teaching Developmentally by Van De Walle, Karp, and Bay-Williams 8th Edition.

Math + Manipulatives = Happy Students

I’m old, therefore, I can’t remember back 30 some odd years ago to when I had a good math lesson in elementary school. But, I spent a few days observing math lessons at the kindergarten where I work earlier this month, and I loved what I saw. Ms. Fox had lessons that were engaging and full of manipulatives for the students, and I loved her style of classroom management. In a class of 20, she has them broken down into 4 groups of four to five. She sets up the 4 tables in the classroom with different math activities, and the students rotate around the room. I want to steal her management style for telling students when it’s time to rotate; she says, “Macaroni and cheese,” and they respond, “Everybody freeze.”

Filling in the number of dots based on the number below

At the different tables, there were worksheets along with a variety of manipulatives. One table had a 10-frame page with dots in each frame and unifix cubes. Students were told to count the dots on their worksheets and then build a tower out of the cubes with that number of dots. It was cool to see how tall some of the towers got. There was another table that had cups of beans. They were instructed to flip them and count how many beans landed on the blue side; once they knew that number, they had to color in that number of beans on their worksheet.


Coloring the number of blue beans that flipped out of their cups

On the first day I was there, Ms. Fox told me about the Starboard in her room. She said, “It’s really cool, when it works.” On the third day, I got to see a major Starboard fail. She had a digital spinner ready to go, but the Starboard wouldn’t work. So, thinking on her feet, she made a spinner in class with a piece of cardboard, a pushpin, and a paper clip. I was impressed with how quickly she transitioned into a new plan and how she kept student interest with the use of creative problem solving. When the paper clip would land on a number, she would ask students what number was before or after the number they had landed on. The students couldn’t wait for their turns!

The impromtu spinner that was made in class


Abstract Mathematics

When I was first taking Child Development classes 5 years ago, Piaget rocked my world. I felt like his stages of development were spot on, and his theory resonated at my core. Sometimes, when I am reading a story to my preschoolers, and I ask if they’ve understood what I’ve just read, I realize that it was asking them to think abstractly. Since I’m dealing with 3 and 4-year-old students, they just stare at me with blank looks on their faces. Because they are in the preoperational stage of thinking, they need stories to spell things out clearly.

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Eight is Enough” by Ken is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There is an amazing quote from Piaget that speaks about the issue of only teaching in the abstract.

“Abstraction is only a sort of trickery and deflection of the mind if it doesn’t constitute the crowning stage of a series of previously concrete actions. The real cause of failure in formal education is therefore essentially the fact that one begins with language instead of beginning with real and material action.” – Jean Piaget, 1976

For me, this lays out the fundamental problem with teaching children in abstract ways, rather than building up to abstract concepts with concrete demonstrations. Students need to be hands on and manipulating materials, in order to understand the process of things.

Jean Piaget_Anton Johansson_Flickr

Jean Piaget” by Anton Johansson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many decades ago, when I was in elementary school, the main way I was taught subject matter was in an abstract fashion. We never had manipulatives or something concrete that could represent what we were learning. Instead, we were given rules, formulas, and definitions, and we were told we had to memorize them to succeed. It was very difficult to learn that way, because there wasn’t a deeper understanding of the why. I can remember numerous times when I was younger having the light bulb turn on in my brain, because I’d suddenly figured out why I’d been doing something a certain way my whole life. Instead of just memorizing the multiplication tables (abstract), why not show how multiplication is just a faster form of addition with something like beans or marbles (concrete)?

multiplication table_Denis Mihailov_Flickr

multiplication table” by Denis Mihailov is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Math: You Can Do It!

Back in the day, some 35 years ago, I knew I wasn’t good at math. It’s just the way things were. I’m not sure who instilled that idea, whether it was teachers or fellow students. I know it wasn’t my parents, because they were always trying to bolster my self-esteem, not undermine it. Growing up, I was good at English type things: vocabulary, spelling, writing; and that was good enough for me. How sad! I just gave up on applying myself at a very early age.

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home work routine” by woodleywonderworks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It wasn’t until I got to the junior college level and needed math courses that I discovered I was actually able to learn and do math. I didn’t want to just submit my high school transcripts and go straight to Algebra; I knew I needed to start from the beginning, since it had been 20 plus years. So, that’s what I did. I sat in the math lab at Oxnard College for hours working on module after module. To my amazement, I was not only passing, but I was doing well. I was excited. Imagine that, a forty-year-old realizing she’d told herself the wrong story about her abilities in math her whole life. What else might I have been wrong about?

Math Workshop Portland 7 US Department of Education Flickr

Math Workshop Portland 7” by US Department of Education is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I kept working my hardest through all my math classes and ended with College Algebra actually feeling like I was good at math. It was amazing, and it was sad that it took so many years for me to realize that. This late in life experience completely changed my view on who can be good at math; I think it’s anyone who applies him or herself. I understand that people will struggle, but I can’t help but wonder how many people have mental roadblocks that were created at an early age that were never eradicated. As a teacher, that is what I aim to do. I want to eradicate the negative biases that children have of themselves and encourage bravery and risk taking to help them be successful now and not when they are middle-aged.

Pi number J. Gabas Esteban Flickr

Pi number” by J. Gabas Esteban is licensed under CC BY 2.0