Friday, January 9, 2009

TGIF, kind of

I know that I shouldn't complain that in the last three weeks, I've only had to go to work for one of them, but I'm sure glad it's Friday.

After a whirlwind 1st week back after Winter/Christmas/Holiday break, I'm ready for the weekend. Let's just say that two weeks is long enough to get used to sitting around on a couch in sleepwear and sipping egg nog watching back to back to back marathon episodes of "My Sweet 16." It was obviously enough to throw me out of my math game and to diminish my teaching stamina.

Add to that the fact that several things have come up a school this week that are atypical, non-routine aberrations. Call them math "emergencies." With educational and math breakthroughs coming less often than Haley's comet or a funny Jay Leno joke, you'd think the calculus teacher gig was pretty predictable, but two things have happened that are of the bi-decade variety, and both in the same 5 days, that have sapped my emotional resources. In fact, if it weren't for the math itself, I don't know if I could have made it through. Thank God for implicit differentiation.

Of course I cannot give the details of the specific events that took place out of professional courtesy, but I can assure you that it DIDN'T involve dividing by zero or taking the logarithm of a negative number.

Unfortunately, my work week isn't quite over either. Tomorrow we have a UIL math practice meet that I am taking several of my "mathletes" to. This involves loading a bus at six thirty in the morning, driving to another school, and setting up camp in the cafeteria for about eight hours. What only amounts to one hour and fifty minutes of actual testing, the remaining six hours and ten minutes involves sitting around wishing we weren't stuck on a bus or in a cafeteria on a Saturday. While waiting for one of three different events, students and I will sit around and take practice tests, play card games with made-up rules, and try to guess what the cafeteria served the day before by detecting it in the stale, lingering odor. This helps the time pass much, much more quickly--not at a snail's pace, but rather at the pace of an urgent turtle trying to make it to the bathroom.

Although I regret not being able to spend the day with my own family, I don't mind (too much) spending the day with my other "kids," and getting a chance to talk with them about things other than questions on their homework. There is a special bond that develops between mathlete and coach during these events, a bond that can only be forged in the environment of mutual captivity and boredem. We take solace in each other's predicament and reaffirm each other's decision to elect to participate in these extracurricular activities. We tell ourselves that it's everyone ELSE on the "outside" who are actually missing out on a special day. We TELL ourselves that, and we think ourselves better and more noble for the unselfish sacrifices we make to be there. If nothing else, it makes us appreciate sunshine, comfortable chairs, and clean, breathable air which we would otherwise take for granted.

For me, it will help take my mind off the math "emergencies" encountered during the week (or give me more idle time to dwell on them.) Nonetheless, I wish my "mathletes" all the best tomorrow as they take on the competition in their events. I just love it when they call me "coach."

No comments: