April: It’s been a month

It sure has been a month, I tell you what. A month since I updated, and a long, long month. My stats recently exploded thanks to Twitter and someone re-posting my AP Physics: Non-Content Insights post. Hi, everyone! Welcome or welcome back.

A few of the more memorable events this past month or so were:

  • Using Kelly O’Shea’s card sort activity for forces and motion. Listening to the kids’ conversations was great. I walked around when they asked for a check and told them I either agreed or disagreed with their sorting and gave them hints about connections between representations. All of them sorted them into all representations for each situation. We were out of time, so I didn’t ask them to re-sort them, and they were very reticent to then compare the groups they had sorted them in to. It was as if they had done the task, now there was nothing else to do, so I definitely need to preface this activity with a better explanation that this is pretty much an unending activity. But during the sorting, here were a few comments I overheard that made me happy:
    • “It can’t be this one because the force going down is bigger than the force going up.”
    • “That makes sense, because there’s no air resistance.”
    • “It’s got one coming out this way and two going out that, so they have to cancel.”
    • “There’s no force pushing, so it’s one of these two.”


  • NCNAAPT meeting! Lordy mercy I love me a physics teacher conference. Getting to chat with Natasha Holmes again, learning new lesson and demo ideas, and so much shop talk. Had a lovely conversation with Dr. Neil Lark, retired physics prof at University of the Pacific. Born 1934, he had amazing stories about his life, science he did, & education. I thanked him for sharing them, and he responded, “That’s what grandpas are for.” I nearly cried. Cleared my throat for an extended moment and took a very long drink of my water before asking for more stories. Then I sat with him at lunch and asked if he wanted to tell more. Turns out he did! My favorite story was about how he worked as a mentor to elementary school classrooms for underserved migrant populations in California, and one of those kiddos grew up to be an Astronaut, José M. Hernández. I follow him on twitter now.


  • So many interviews! I missed a lot of class for the all-day interviews with demo lesson that is the hallmark of independent school job searching. It was really nice to interact with new communities and also to compare/contrast their interview methodology. Schools are getting serious into equity, social justice, representation, inclusion, and getting white teachers to do their work. It’s amazing.


  • I accepted a position for next year at a school in San Francisco. Now we get to figure out Bay Area housing! It’s very exciting and also so very stressful. New jobs and moving are two of the most stressful life events, and I get to do both at once! At least this time I’m not also planning my wedding at the same time. That hat trick of horrible was brutal. Anyway, very excited about the new position. The curriculum there was designed by a colleague I’ve worked with for years in the local physics teacher community, and it’s been the inspiration for what I’ve been trying and failing to implement in two schools now due to a lack of support against student/parent pushback. Moving to a place where that is not only supported but already adopted and having of all the materials will, I hope, take away a lot of the tension I’ve previously faced.


  • The stress of all the things is getting to me more than usual. After the head trauma earlier this month, it took a few weeks to recover, but I’m doing fine. A week ago I got what I thought was poison oak, but turned out to be stress-related and not plant-oil-related. My blood pressure is hilariously high. They took some blood at the doc’s at about 6pm and asked if I was fasting. Turns out, yes. I hadn’t had anything to eat that day, not intentionally, just that’s how a lot of my days go. G took me out to dinner immediately following, so we fixed it. Now that robotics is over, and I have an offer for next year, I can settle in to finishing up the school year and packing up the house without all those additional stressors. May, I’m coming for you with open arms and hopefully a lot of sleep.


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