Saturday, March 20, 2010

The magic of teaching; El Trifinio

I've been cruising during the last couple of weeks at work. In between teaching increasingly difficult algebraic topics, I sprinkled in some fun Geometric activities, various pep-talking, and some small-group tutoring to help my 9th-graders get through this time. For Geometry, March and April are our last push of heavy algebra before we move on to hands-on 3-D geometry stuff, so at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It helps that this period of heavy algebra coincides with kids working harder on their own to stay afloat during the second semester -- I cannot tell if this is a result of this being a private school or if my various pep talks throughout the year have finally started to pay off. But, the other day, when a kid had not completed his homework assignment, before I could say anything, another kid turned to him and said in an imitation of me, "Herbert, you're not making good choices." It cracked me up, and I think that it's a good sign that the kids are at least partially internalizing what I say to them...

Some of my Algebra 2 Honors kids are lobbying for me to move up with them to teach Pre-Calculus Honors. The word on the street is that I'll be teaching only Geometry (both regular and Honors) next year. I am excited about the prospect of teaching Geometry Honors, now that I have (close to) a year of experience under my belt in teaching regular Geometry. The second time around, I think I can make the Geometry topics a lot more fun than they had been the first time, because I have been collecting various teaching materials and ideas throughout the year. But, I will miss my older students. So, I am taking the stance of sitting back and seeing what comes out of their lobbying, even though I'm pretty sure they won't be able to influence the school's plan of letting me teach Geometry full-time. (I don't really know, but I would guess that there is probably some small bit of politics involved in moving "up" to teach Pre-Calculus and Calculus. Especially in a department like mine, where I am the only teacher under the age of 35, I try to stay under the drama radar.)

In other news, Geoff and I are going to Costa Rica soon! The Holy Week is coming up, which is a big deal here in Central America. We teachers actually get 10 days off -- weekend to weekend, plus the following Monday. Since I need to get a tourist visa to China before June, I had been on the phone with a guy from the nearest Chinese embassy, located in Costa Rica. He assured me that they will open their doors to allow me an appointment during Semana Santa, so I went ahead and purchased my tickets to go to Costa Rica. Geoff will join me and spend a few days there as well, so that we can look around. --I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!! Costa Rica is supposed to be a lush tropical jungle, Jurassic Park-style. I cannot be more thrilled to go there. :)

By the way, our friend Colleen recently organized an amazing trip to the Montecristo National Park. We drove up there (Geoff and I drove in our sedan, which was not a pretty picture on those mountain roads), camped out on Saturday, and then did a day hike on Sunday to summit the point where Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala borders all meet at El Trifinio. It was a foggy day and the view wasn't great, but the hike was amazingly comfortable through the serene forest. I had missed being outdoors!