It’s The Day Before The Day Before. There is no doubt in my mind that Thanksgiving is the most eagerly awaited holiday on the school calendar. Labor Day was a lifetime ago. Fall Break was really a three-day weekend. Christmas and its two weeks of jammie-wearing, sleeping-in gloriousness is a month away. We’re hanging on by a thread here.
So of course, we are deep into a quadratics unit right now. Of course we are, when nobody wants to do anything. I reminded my Track 3 Algebra II students that we’ve pretty much just finished all of Algebra I. In 12 weeks. They’ve done this stuff before. But still.
Quadratics goes from easy –> challenging. Factoring. Square Rooting. And then: We Need A New Tool. Because what we got, ain’t working.
I told them I was gonna break their brains yesterday, then chill a bit today. Completing the square was on tap. They hate it. TBH, I don’t really even like teaching it all that much because of how much they hate it. But, SIUP and JFT, pal.
But it gets better. Next up? Quadratic formula. Oh Dear God.
Half a sheet of paper to do one problem. As my students say: “that’s too much, Mister.”
On November 22. Really. Really? Play it straight and super-serious? Or be a little silly on the day before break?
Do you really need to ask?
You’re damn right we sang the quadratic formula today.
Now, after we played and laughed and sang today, am I gonna be that jerk teacher that sends my kids out the door with homework over Thanksgiving Break? Nah. “Your only homework is to teach your new earworm to your family members around the table on Thursday. And to be ready to sing it for a quiz grade on Monday”. That’s easy enough, right?
I left them with one final thought:
Here we are, at Thanksgiving Break. Three and a half weeks till Christmas Break. Two weeks off. Then, a couple weeks til MLK Day. A month til Mid-Winter Break. Another six weeks til Spring Break. And a sprint to the finish. (Not That We’re Counting). There will be a day, late June, say. The sweet spot of summer. School’s done, not worried about going back yet, just chillin’. Those beautiful, long, late spring/early summer evenings when it’s light out forever.
And they’ll hear it. Faintly at first, from a couple of blocks away. Then, louder:
And all the kids in the neighborhood will be losing their whole mind, just like in that Eddie Murphy bit (NSFW). Asking mom for money, running down the street after the Ice Cream Man. But my kids will hear that song, and in their head they’ll remember what we did today: “x equals negative b, plus or minus the square root, of b squared minus 4ac, all over 2a.”
Dammit. That stupid math teacher made me think of math, and it’s summer!
And when it happens, I won’t be there. But I’ll know, in my heart.
And I’ll smile.
Happy Thanksgiving, you people.