Life Is Good | My Job

"The beauty of mathematics shows itself only to more patient followers." -Maryam Mirzakhani

* * * W A R N I N G * * *

The following images may be shocking, disturbing or downright triggering for certain math-phobic individuals.

I, however, find them delightful.

^ This is a distance problem, closely related to the iconic "two trains left the station, one traveling north and the other going south" style of problem. In this story, Charlene has been handed a 20-mile head start on Larry who, apparently some kind of speed demon, eventually catches up. I call this a Robin Hood-style problem with mad respect to the Disney movie of the same name, in which the characters are constantly chasing each other to and fro.

^ Welcome to the glorious world of trigonometry and yes, we are finally going to bust out the calculators! Though I'm vehemently opposed to using calculators for almost every other form of high school mathematics, solving most trig functions simply can't be done with pencil and paper. Here we unlock the secrets of pushing the buttons in the proper order.

^ Let's start with two similar triangles and solve for the missing parts a, b, and c.

^ Thankfully, we have a number of tools to throw at the challenge and each variable requires a different strategy.

^ This problem cheerfully integrates geometric reasoning with some algebraic chops and in my mind, serves up the best of both worlds of mathematical thought. 

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Four mornings a week, I roll out of bed and set my feet on the floor in delicious anticipation of another busy day of math.

I love teaching math.

I delight in breaking open the secrets of two new lessons of Saxon Math in an hour of face-to-face time with my homeschooled high school students, usually while comfortably seated at their dining room tables. Sometimes, their dogs sleep at my feet while we work. 

I enjoy sharpening my students' wits with a weekly review problem, which gives them a chance to prove their progress to me, and reveal how their mathematical reasoning is coming along. 

But most of all, I adore answering their questions. Throw me any ol' problem from the hundreds provided for homework, and give me a chance to wrassle it to the ground.. My adrenaline surges as I stare down a challenging problem, and do my best to not just stumble through it, but clearly and articulately narrate my journey, because after all, my task is to teach. 

Often, just as our time is expiring, one of my students will say, "Umm I actually have a few questions on the homework..." And with some trial and error over the years, I've learned that the best response is to quickly gather up the specifics of which problems are causing the confusion, bid the student adieu, then go home and work through the problems on my own. Once I finish, I snap photos of my work and text them off to the student in question, who can usually then find their way through to understanding what's going on.

We compare notes when we meet again, just to be sure.

My students often apologize for asking me these questions. But they don't understand.

Answering their questions is about the most fun I can imagine.

And I'm insanely thankful for my job. 

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Life is Good Challenge: A series of photos that depict joy in my life. No words or explanations necessary, but I really can't help myself. 

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