Trying to find math inside everything else

Today I did the How I Met Your Mother hot/crazy scale lesson, which was strange this year. The past two years I did my statistics unit in October/November, so this lesson fell pretty early in the year. So I had a lot of fun because I was able to play with students’ expectations by using the androgynous names, the fact that the year is still new and they don’t know me as well and as less blatant about asking things, made for an overall enjoyable experience.

It’s funny because I don’t come out with intention every year, but it can sorta happen at times. I feel like this year my students still don’t really know across the board. And if they don’t know about me yet, they definitely don’t know about the other 3 gay male teachers. [4 out of  11 male faculty members seems like a lot. (The joke is that my old principal only hired either attractive young female teachers or male teachers that weren’t competition for the ladies’ attention.)] So I’m wondering if I played the game too well this year.

When I think about last year, there’s three moments that stood out. First was this lesson, which could plant suspicions but nothing confirmed. Then in December I did a lesson about the definition of a function. At one point, I ask for examples of functions that would map from the domain of people. Things like age and weight are examples, whereas race and hair color do not, since you can be more than one race or have more than one hair color. Then they say eye color, and I say it’s not, because someone could have two differently colored eyes. “In fact, my boyfriend has two differently colored eyes – one brown and one blue.” But if no one says eye color, it might not come up. And sometimes students jump in and mention that fact themselves. The third moment is when a student asked me who my Valentine was, with my response of “my boyfriend.”

For the current seniors and juniors, I feel like word spread quickly. The current sophomores a little more slowly, but by Feb 14 everyone knew. But this year it’s been somehow different. Partly it is due to the Common Core. I moved function definitions to the very beginning of the year, and so, I don’t know why, I said “I know somebody who has two different colored eyes” instead of specifying. Maybe I thought it was too early in the year? But then this lesson shifted later, so those two natural moments didn’t occur.

I mean, this didn’t stop individual students for talking about it. Most of my lunch gang knew because we’ve just had many more conversations and it came up. But my answer to “Do you have a wife/girlfriend?” Is always no, and the conversation often ends there. I won’t push it if they don’t, because we have math to do.

But because it wasn’t across the board acknowledged, somehow today was weirder. Maybe I’ll address it tomorrow.

This was longer than I thought – leave it to #MTBoS30 to make me ramble. I’m not sure what the thesis of this post was, other than “This can be surprisingly difficult to navigate, even if you aren’t trying to make it difficult or trying to navigate it at all.”

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Comments on: "Being Out in the Classroom" (11)

  1. mshitchcock said:

    Thanks for talking about this! One of my most memorable lessons involved “Jane & Sarah”. I had a student come up to me after class and tell me that it was so nice to have people like her reflected in a math problem.

  2. suevanhattum said:

    Different how?

    I teach college, so it’s easier (I think). I don’t have a girlfriend though, so there’s not a lot of obvious statements to make. I think of myself as completely out, but in math class, this sort of thing doesn’t necessarily come up. Like you, I mention it when it’s relevant.

    • I was so confused by your comment, Sue, because apparently WordPress ate the rest of my post! Now it’s there and should explain how it’s different.

      My boyfriend teaches college, and we talk about how little it comes up there. The relationships are just not the same as high school or middle school ones. You certainly don’t see the students as often. And it was also definitely different when I was single – much easier to unintentional dodge the question without lying.

  3. It’s awesome that you feel comfortable enough to be out with your students. It never bothered me all that much that I couldn’t be out in the classroom – we were busy enough with all the learning that’s going on, plus I live in Texas – but it would have been nice to know that I didn’t have to hide anything from my kids or sidestep certain questions.

    That’s not to say, as an elementary school teacher, that my love life didn’t come up quite regularly. Apparently if a man and a woman are friendly towards each other, then clearly they are dating or possibly married. My students all knew I wasn’t married and that I didn’t have a girlfriend, but at their age they didn’t really think there were any other alternatives. One student even tried to set me up with her cousin. I remember her coming up to me at an open house and telling me, “I asked her to come tonight! I want you to meet her!” Thankfully she didn’t show up.

    One time a boyfriend did come by school to bring me lunch. For some reason I thought my students would realize right away that we were more than friends, but their only question after he left was, “Is he French?”

    If I were to go back to the classroom now, it would be difficult for me. Back then I didn’t mind “hiding” the fact that I had boyfriends (which when written plural totally makes me sound like I had a way more exciting dating life than I did). Now that I’m married, and my husband is clearly a very important part of my life, I wouldn’t be comfortable hiding that from my students. I wouldn’t go out of my way to bring it up necessarily, but it feels disrespectful to my husband if I were to pretend he didn’t exist when I was around my students. Despite being in Texas, at least I’m in Austin, so there’s a better chance I wouldn’t lose my job.

    Anyway, back to kudos to you. I’m happy for you that you are able to be yourself in the classroom, if a bit jealous.

  4. Are you dating David Bowie??? Awesome!!

  5. […]  Being Out in the Classroom takes a great How I Met Your Mother/ Dan Meyer lesson and adds one of my favorite things: gender […]

  6. Thank you for talking about this and for using microaffirmations such as the hot/crazy scale lesson modifications!

  7. […] During this blogging challenge, the piece that has resonated the most with me is the one about being out in the classroom. This is something I was never able to be when I was a teacher, and it makes me happy to read about […]

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