Residuals from the Past Month

It’s been a busy month of October. I don’t have a new lesson or resource to share this time – instead, here are some things which have been rattling around my brain.

Last night at the weekly Global Math Department online meet, NCTM President-Elect Matt Larson shared new and “in the works” resources for members, and a revised vision for PD in the coming years.  In the past few months, I have been fortunate to speak personally with both Matt and current President Diane Briars, and I am happy to hear that NCTM not only values the work of the Math-Twitter-Blog O-Sphere, but are now beginning to take lessons from the successes of ourline community and bring it to the national organization.

With regional conferences starting this week, I am most excited to see a new website NCTM has established to encourage ongoing dialogue:  I won’t be able to make any of the regionals, but will be checking in from afar on this new site. I’m already enjoying the sharing from presenters, and the sense of ongoing discussion.

I re-arranged my bedroom furniture this summer, and I’m not sure I like it better.

This afternoon, I took one of my daily walks through the neighborhood, with the Bill Simmons podcast as my companion. His guest was Judd Apatow, and the conversation turned towards the negative aspects of celebrity.  Judd mentioned Eddie Murphy who started as observational comic, then became hugely famous, as someone whose work was altered by the seclusion of celebrity status. No longer able to make the every-day connection to his audience, the observational aspect of Eddie’s career withered away, and was replaced by other things.  Judd Apatow, sensing a need to re-visit his comedic roots for inspiration, dusted himself off to do stand-up and has caught his comedic second wind.

Is there a lesson here for teachers who leave the classroom to become administrators? How long does it take for separation from the classroom to take root – and can (and should) it be re-visited now and again?

Sometimes I wonder why nobody has been arrested yet for assaulting one of the Impractical Jokers

I have 3 quite different preps this semester, and I am professionally miserable because of it.  With block scheduling here, teachers have 3 courses each semester.  Now and then, 3 preps is not a big deal.  But I teach each course with someone different (or a different group) from the department, and I rarely share prep with any of them.  I’m also the only member of my department to have 3 preps, and this is the second semester in a row this has happened.  OK…I’m getting real close to my whining quota here, but I don’t think I am doing a good job right now.  Instead of having laser-focus on my courses, I find myself all over the place.  This is not helping my students and I am worried.

Some of my AP students report that they will go trick-or-treating next week.  For me, high school age is when you are out of the candy loop.  Am I right?

My Math Club kids are the most enthusiastic bunch I have “coached” in recent memory.  And the weekly Math Madness contests have been great for getting kids to talk about problem solving approaches.  I don’t usually enjoy doing math for competition’s sake, but we have been holding weekly de-briefs after each contest and the conversations have been informal, spirited and genuine.  I’m lucky to work with such a great group of kids!

Today is “Back to the Future” day – October 21, 2015.  The day Marty McFly visited the future on the big screen.  And I passed a DeLorean on the way home from work (no lie, this really happened!)

My new local hero is a colleague of mine at my school who teachers Anatomy and Physiology, Chris Baker.  In addition to being an awesome role model for kids, and someone passionate about his craft, he has jumped deeper into the Twitter pool and has embraced 20% time as part of his classroom culture.  Consider giving him a follow – he’s a good egg!


By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

4 replies on “Residuals from the Past Month”

I love these ramblings! I have self-diagnosed ADHD (LOL) and often lose interest in long articles….but yours covered so many topics I had to read them all. I am also a “topic jumper” when talking with friends so I totally followed this post!

I am sad to hear about the effect 3 preps is having on you and subsequently the trickle-down negative effect on your students. Compounded with no common prep times with colleagues, no wonder you are all over the place. I really think that being allowed to focus on one class and dedicate 100% of your energy to it is key to success (for students and teachers). I know that I cannot give the attention each course (and students) deserve if I am being pulled in different directions. To paraphrase Ken Trautwein (am I really about to do this???), at least you are providing a safe, thought-provoking environment, nobody is getting hurt and everyone will survive. Those are my go-to thoughts when I get frustrated.

On a separate note, thanks for the shout-out. Honestly, it all started with the Twitter PD inservice session you help a few years back. Without Twitter I would not have been able to transcend no common prep time; I spent last night brainstorming and sharing with two A&P eduTweeps (one from Texas, another from Illinois). I found that there are LOTS of people out there in the Twittersphere willing to help. So thank you Bob. You done good.

Sorry to read about your 3 preps as well, someone will need to fix that for you, I think I know someone who might be able to help with this. Seriously, I have been seriously thinking about how I can provide common prep time to all departments in some form within our current schedule setup. Ideas are all over the place, hopefully I will find something that works.
Thanks for being good – good in the classroom, good for students, good for colleagues, and good at math 🙂

Hi Bob,
I so appreciated your rambling! I am also dealing with more preps than I anticipated as well as trying to finish collecting data for my dissertation. My principal tries to provide some common planning time, but it isn’t easy. I know you are very, very busy, but please consider taking my short survey at
Thanks for the consideration. I would highly value your input.

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