Long weekend

There are dozens of islands scattered around the east coast of Vancouver Island. Each is accessible only by boat or by seaplane; no bridges connect them to Vancouver Island or the mainland. That sort of isolation, combined with the small populations of islands, forces islands to run more gently, more slowly than mainland communities, even […]

Why Needs-a-B is Barely Pulling a D in My Class

Below, the fruits of half an hour of excruciating conversation during office hours. In the interest of fairness, I present two readings of my pupil’s abysmal performance in my class: Needs-a-B’s take: The question about the CLT, she really thought she got full marks on that, but she got zero. And she wrote practically the same […]

‘And why are there classes like this?

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Rudbeckia Hirta was teaching one of the other sections of precalculus at Island U – that’s how applicable this post of hers is to my situation: I know that in my department we teach THOUSANDS of students each year, and we only have a few dozen majors. Almost all of our […]

I am not a doctor on call, dammit

Just returned home after a few days away, and was greeted by an inbox filled with queries from students who apparently don’t appreciate the sanctity of Easter. Among the notes is a polite “reminder” from Needs-a-B, who’d asked me on Thursday to email her the grade from the last test, “you know, no rush or […]

Precalculus bingo: the multiplayer edition

Of all the snark I’ve posted on the topic of teaching intro college math, none has garnered as much sympathy – and laughter – as precalculus bingo. Everyone who’d ever taught a math class anywhere in the world could relate to my experiences; apparently that’s what this guyis saying, anyway. Grading sad, sad tests is as inevitable […]

All in a day’s work

According to one of my precalculus students, a girl apparently unacquainted with the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy, I “derive pleasure from seeing [my] students fail.” This, I am told, is a consequence of my gross narcissism, which leads me to show off in front of the class and on tests by demonstrating what a […]

The texts, they are a-changin’.

My calculus students, I should mention, are a dream. They come to class. They do their homework. They can add fractions. They don’t whine that sometimes I make them think. Some of them are failing, but none to the point that I’m led to wonder whether they have ever done any math in their lives, ever. I […]

Mixed messages

From a letter of recommendation written by my boss: …I was very pleased with MS’s work in the Discrete Mathematics classes, particularly considering that this was the first time she had taught this course. …Her evaluations in the precalculus classes were somewhat lower, but I still regard them as very good…Precalculus is a very challenging […]