Friday, July 10, 2009

"Ten Commandments of Math" and other reflections

Teaching in Ukraine requires preparation in so many different ways.

First, I'm going as a volunteer missionary through the Church of the Nazarene, so I have to prepare for the trip spiritually and logistically (raising support and packing up my stuff for a year). Who knows what I will be able to do with the COTN throughout the country--possibly working with some compassionate ministries projects? I wonder if I will be able to see some of the kids from last summer.

Next, I am going as a teacher, a first-year teacher at that. This requires me to brainstorm lesson activities, consider classroom management ideas that I can implement with my very own classes, and implement some of the many things I learned during my time at ENC. I think this is one of my biggest needs in preparation, especially for teaching 3 specific classes that I've never taught before (Geometry, Algebra II, 7th grade Bible). In each of my classes, I will have approximately 15 students, which is a nice size. :)

Thirdly, I am going as one who is able to build relationships with my students in and out of the classroom. This doesn't require active preparation on my part before I go, but a willingness to strike up conversations with my students, to listen to their stories, to attend their extra-curricular events to support them, and probably to hang out with them on weekends. I see this as being slightly different from how I would relate to students in the States, and I imagine my relationships with the students will be similar to those with my quizzers back at Wollaston. I'm looking forward to getting to know my students, all 45ish of them!

Tonight (or should I say this morning) I was looking at some teacher webpages, and found these sets of "Ten Commandments." One is based more on rules for the classroom, and the second has to do with mathematics. Enjoy!

1. Thou shalt not divide by zero.
2. Thou shalt not put other textbooks before thee in math class.
3. Thou shalt show thy work; check thy work and confirm that thy results are reasonable.
4. Remember thy test days and prepare for them wholly.
5. Thou shalt honor the correct order of operations.
6. Thou shalt not do thy math homework in ink!
7. Thou shalt commit the facts of arithmetic to memory.
8. Thou shalt do unto one side of an equation what thou doest to the other
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy original problems; thou shalt copy thy problems accurately and legibly.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's paper, not anything that is thy neighbor's.

And now, the "Mathematician's Version."

1. Thou shalt read thy problem...carefully.
2. Whatsoever thou doest to one side of thy equation, do ye also to the other.
3. Thou must use thy "common sense", else thou wilt have flagpoles 9,000 feet high. Yea, even fathers younger than sons.
4. Thou shalt ignore the teachings of false prophets to do all thy work in thy head.
5. When thou knowest not, thou shalt look it up; and if thy search still elude thee, thou shalt ask thy All-Knowing Teacher.
6. Thou shalt master each step before putting thy heavy foot down on the next.
7. Thy correct answer does not prove that thou hast worked thy problem correctly. This argument convincest none, least of all thy Teacher.
8. Thou shalt first see that thou hast copied thy problem correctly, before bearing false witness that the answer book lieth.
9. Thou shalt look back even unto thy youth and remember thy arithmetic.
10. Thou shalt learn, read, write, speak, and listen correctly in the language of mathematics, and verily A's and B's shall follow thee even unto graduation.


  1. I noticed a book the other day at B&N and wondered if you'd seen it (maybe you've mentioned it on here before). "Kiss my Math" by Danica McKeller? And she did another one called "Math Doesn't Suck". They looked really cute :) I was always horrible in math - studied for an insane amount of time just to get above a remedial math score on my ACT. In retrospect, I don't remember ever having a teacher who seemed to enjoy math much either. I think that makes all the difference in the world. I'm glad your students have you!

  2. You know, I think I saw that book when I was in B&N the last time, and thought it looked good! I wish teachers had an unlimited budget for buying things that could help their students...and that I didn't have a packing limit for Ukraine (both in weight and volume).

    I had a great teacher in high school...for AP Calculus, in teaching limits, she played the Eagles' song "Take it to the Limit", and also brought in Hershey Kisses and bundt cakes for volumes. :)

    I enjoy the process of working through the problem and getting to the answer, and it helps that there is usually only one right answer (or set of answers), so it's a bit more black and white.