As Jack aka Leo said…

Sometimes it just takes one day and you know everything is going to be fine.  For me that day was yesterday.  I am going to rock this year.  I hadn’t been sure for a few months.  In fact, I had lost all confidence in my ability to teach.  Questions like, “What if I can’t do math?” “What if the children hate me?” “What if suddenly after three years of teaching I have forgotten how?”  Have been rattling around since June.

Although twitter math camp was amazing I left feeling a little bit less than.  I love math less than these people.  I might love teaching less than these people.  I might be the worst in the universe.  (I’m not, by the way.)

And while I have been home for three weeks doing work and hanging out those thoughts have been lingering in the back of my mind.  And I’m gonna tell you something.  They totally fucked with my psyche.  I let them linger without talking to anyone for 3 weeks and god damn it they didn’t mess me up.

But back to yesterday.  Yesterday I got an email from a student and it included this stunning quote,

I’ve decided that this year is going to be amazing and wonderful and all sorts of things that it will probably not be, but as Leonardo DiCaprio aka Jack Dawson says in Titanic, ” life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.”

Now, it’s cheesy and silly and doesn’t undo all the feelings but it does make me feel better.  I remembered that the reason I like teaching is that I love kids.  That they are the best part of my job.  That although I might not love math as much and I might not love teaching as much, I love this job, a lot.

I have a classroom and students and an office and dorm duty and a black hole for all my free time to fly into but all of that is what I want.  I have what I want in so many ways right now.   And how many people get to say that?

Also in that email was an idea that I intend to adopt: A list of why this year is going to rock.  A very good friend of mine came back for the year yesterday and we starting discussing our list.  If involves taking advantage of free time and many other things but the important thing is that it made me think about why this year would be amazing.  And it will be.  Because why the hell not?


I go back to work tomorrow and many of you have already gone back.  I’ve decided to stop saying good luck to people because I don’t think we need luck.  Instead I will go with: be awesome cause you already are, so it shouldn’t be that hard.



4 thoughts on “As Jack aka Leo said…

  1. YOU. ARE. AWESOME. And, I love this. Sometimes you also have to decide that you ARE going to be awesome and you ARE going to have a great year because you love your students, and you love teaching them. Nothing else really matters. It does get hard when you let other stuff get in the way and upset you. But, you just have to get over it and focus on what you love and be happy. And, if you are trying you’re hardest, I think you are doing the best job that you can do every day. You have to be happy with yourself about that. I also had all of these thoughts JUST this morning, when I decided that it was going to be a GREAT year for me, no matter what, just bc I love my students.


  2. The human psyche is a bizarre place. We’re all different. Yet I’d argue a lot of people probably had those same thoughts about other people being “better”. (I know I do!!) So we’re all the same? Well, no, because we all have different definitions of what’s better – ones which can change over time, and which can make us blind to our own strengths.

    Besides, I apparently love math so much I’ve personified it. I’m now one step away from loving math carnally. That doesn’t make me any better (in fact arguably, it makes me creepier), because it’s only one aspect of the job. I think you’ve hit on what it boils down to: You have what you want right now. And your students have you. Go with that until there’s a genuine need to reassess.


  3. Sophie, your blog posts ALWAYS get me thinking. You are a wonderful teacher because you let a quote from a student turn your whole attitude around.

    I’ve been reading everyone’s blogs/tweets about going back to school with all of the amazing energy and ideas generated over the summer, hoping I can rise to the challenge when my turn comes (in NYC we unbelievably don’t have students until September 9). It’s a bit intimidating given the vast amount of creativity in teaching out there in the #MTBoS (I am most recently blown away by Nathan Kraft’s toothpicks: But ultimately I am grateful for this community of people who put everything out there to share – their considerable talent and insight in crafting mathematics teaching, their fears and anxieties about teaching, and their great senses of irony/humor.

    So you are right – it’s going to be an AWESOME year!


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