It’s easy to get attached to co-workers. (Heck, it’s easy for me to get attached to all kinds of people but that’s a story for another blog). But teacher coworkers are special. You spend an obscene amount of your waking hours with them. They celebrate with you when you experience classroom success, and they talk you through times when lessons become a dumpster fire of failure. That co-worker/friend relationship becomes even more special when you teach a class together. Especially when it’s new. And difficult. Like AP Stats. This was my first year (and our district’s first year) taking on the challenge of 120 AP Stats students. There were many people who helped me when I reached out. Many have been where I am and were more than willing to give advice even when that advice wasn’t very well recieved. (What do you mean you can’t use 2 instead of 1.96 as a critical value for a 95% confidence interval!?)
But no one was more supportive and encouraging and helpful than my co-teacher Dianna Hazelton. We muddled through the AP Stats training together even though half of it might as well have taught in Windows wingdings for all I know. We poured over the textbook for hours on end, making sure we knew what we were teaching at least 5 minutes before the kids arrived. We reflected on every test and quiz together, worked through hundreds of problems to make sure the kids had teachers equiped to prepare them for that exam in May. And after the instructional days were done, we still seem to reglarly engage in AP Stats discussions. And through this grueling process of preparing dozens of kids for this exam, our teaching lives became intertwined working toward similar goals with all of our students. And the co-worker/friend relationship becomes more just a friend/friend relationship because in teaching, you become deeply attached to the work you do and to those who share the emotional experience it means to teach an AP class. And I’m more than grateful to have gotten to share this experience with Dianna Hazelton.
But then something unexpected happens and that co-worker, now friend, is leaving. Greener pastures? Not really. Just different for the different grass up in Northern Minnesota. And after the shock wears off, you look around and realize that after working for so hard and so long at something together, it isn’t going to be the same without her there. Yes, someone else hard-working and energetic will take over where Dianna left off and we’ll do more great things with this class together. But there’s truly something special about the relationship you build with that person who was there with you at the beginning. When the formula sheet gave you anxiety because you couldn’t comprehend anything on it even though you were currently teaching it. When the terms “p-value” and “null hypothesis” had meanings unrelated to mathematics and were more like punchlines to a bad joke.
So I want to use this blog post to say thank you to Dianna. Thank you for believing in us, in our students, and in our curriculum. Thank you for sharing yourself, your time and your knowledge so that we both could become better teachers having taken on this challenge. Thank you for endless copies, and countless examples, and never-ending activities to support every student they wanted to give AP stats was shot. There will be a hole in our department when you step out those doors for the last time this June. A hole that can’t be filled with a new teacher and a shiny new ID badge. It’s a hole that was created by the amazing experience we had together building this class so that all of our students have access to college level courses.
I’m not going to read over this blog to fix any errors. I wrote this straight from my heart to Dianna’s and want it to as authentic as possible. So thank you Dianna. I’m a better teacher than I was before I met you because you cultivated an environment in St Francis High School’s AP stats classes that allows students to really stretch what they are capable of doing in math class. And my warmest well wishes on this next exciting chapter of your life that lies before you.