Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A slice of Pumpkin Pi

Yesterday felt like a Thursday, minus the "Grey's Anatomy." With Thanksgiving on Thursday, we in public education reap the benefits of having a few days off from school, I mean work. While most business establishments get Thursday off, and possibly Friday, students and teachers get the day off before Thanksgiving, kind of like a "pre-vacation," or a day to relax and rest up before the big day of R&R (and eating) the following day. OR, a day to hit the "Blowout Day Before Thanksgiving Sale" at Kohl's. Not a bad deal, I have to admit.

That means that today, a Tuesday, will feel like a Friday, minus the fact that we won't be able to don our "causal Friday" denim. Believe it or not, there are some teachers who actually complain about this! I say, "wear khaki today, denim the next six." Regardless, the spirit and mindset of everyone at school today is going to be that of "no work, all play." As I will attempt to proceed to teach a new lesson, khaki pants and all, the students will invariably, incredulously ask, "You're going to assign us homework over Thanksgiving?!?!" Oh, I love to hear this. There are SOOOO many delicious ways I can answer that, assuming I acknowledge it at all. Here are some ways you can turn their disbelief into mirthful disappointment.
  • Of course I'm not. I'm assigning it today. What you don't finish by tonight, you can finish your first day back next Monday. In fact, I insist you don't do it over the break, especially at the dinner table on Thursday.
  • Without math homework, you wouldn't be able to properly give thanks. Do you realize how many people around the world are starving for knowledge and thirsting for the opportunity to learn higher-level math skills???
  • You're about to go 6 days without seeing me. I've got to give you something by which to remember me!
  • Yes
  • What did you expect me to give you? Social Studies homework?
  • You're right. Some people travel away from home for the holiday. Perhaps we should call it "away-from-school work."
  • Don't worry. I'm a professional. I know what I'm doing.
  • In the spirit of abundance and plenitude, not only do you have homework, but it will consist of 100 problems. Go ahead and gorge yourself on math.
The list goes on and on. The students know me well enough by now that I think they ask the question just to get the reaction out of me. But I always answer matter-of-factly then quickly proceed with the math at hand (it doesn't teach itself, does it?) All in all, though, it's great fun and and awesome responsibiliy to shape and alter students' expectations and habits. I don't think anyone in MY classes really walk in expecting a "free" day, even though they utter the question, "Can we have a free day today?" It's just their way of acknowledging what OTHER, less-fortunate students might be doing on that given day. It's their way of modestly recognizing that more IS expected of them, that they ARE fortunate to have a instructor who is so passionate and focused on delivering the curriculum appropriately. They say things like that in good humor because that's the climate I've created in the classroom.

Deep down, though, they know that comments like that really are nothing but jokes with great punchlines, and that, come Thursday, they have so much to give thanks for, including copious amounts of math homework.


Anonymous said...

Kevin, have a Happy Thanksgiving

Anonymous said...

u too