Where do I begin?
I should’ve known better. According to my blogging history, my “real” update was written two years ago. I wrote a couple of poems last year, but I guess those don’t actually count.
After (under)graduation I had two paths unfold in front of me: to take on a graduate assistant position at A&M, or to teach math full time to seventh graders. I ended up teaching middle schoolers, mainly because I wanted to experience what I spent four years preparing for. A year later I decided to keep teaching, but also, to go back to grad school and pursue my M.S. in [pure] mathematics. I am now in my fourth semester and taking two classes. After this semester, four comprehensive exams, one class, and my research will stand between me and my diploma.
Going to grad school is so much different from attending undergrad. Not the proofs. There are always proofs. In fact, there are more proofs. Harder proofs. Crazy proofs. Scary proofs. Still, they must be conquered. Grad school is, of course, more specialized. I have been taking two classes each semester instead of the normal five in undergrad, and because of this I am able to focus my energies more on each subject. And I have to. The coursework is no joke. Professors expect students to be, in some ways, “experts” at what they do. (It’s not always true, but the expectations and standards are definitely higher.) You can’t whine. You can’t be immature. You can’t be unprofessional, because at this level everyone is a professional.
This semester I am taking my favorite class: number theory. It’s exciting, really, because when I was in undergrad I pondered about concentrating in number theory once I get to grad school. Now, it is one of the last classes I will take, and I am taking it all in just before I work on my research. It’s funny, this college life. There is no knowing where the roads will take you. Who would’ve thought I would take this route? I honestly thought I would be married by 25.
Does anyone actually graduate with the degree they initially intended to obtain? Of course, probability says yes, but sometimes I wonder.
What’s been keeping me busier than grad school, however, is teaching. This year, I was offered the math department head position. I hold weekly meetings with my department. I meet with administrators at least once a week. Sometimes they look for me, but most of the time I look for them. We talk about everything under the sun: students, safety, discipline, curriculum, school activities — there is always something to talk about. Teaching is probably one of the most dynamic and demanding careers ever created by mankind.
I also started a math honor society this year: Mu Alpha Theta. It was one of my favorite clubs when I was in high school, and I told myself that if I were ever required to sponsor a club or school activity, it would have to be Mu Alpha Theta. We met the challenge of being a new club head on, and this summer were taking an out-of-state trip to the National Convention. How’s that for a field trip? (I say this because since I started teaching I have actually never taken my students or gone with other classes on a field trip. Crazy.)
Other than these, I actually teach 8th grade math and Precalculus. That’s right: I am finally moving on to higher mathematics. It was never a secret to the school administration, when I took the middle school teaching job, that my goal is to teach high school math. Not just any high school math, but the highest we offer. Next year, I will be moving on to teach AP Calculus and Pre-AP Precalculus. Pretty exciting, I must say, especially since I get to follow my awesome Precalculus students next year. I love them too much and am not ready to part with them.
I would talk about how I love my students and everything else I love about teaching, but that would take a few more paragraphs, and I wanted to keep this update concise. I will have to save them for another post.
As I write this post I realize that 2016 is the last year for me as a twenty-something. (I guess I still get the first five months of 2017, but you get the point.) Perhaps that is why I feel the need to update my blog. Back in 2009 — I was 22 then — I wrote that the intention of this blog was to record the “most crucial years of my life,” but I am slowly realizing that there really is no such thing. Every day is just as important as the next. Every year is a crucial year. There are only chapters and milestones. There are highs and lows, which I now find to be all equally important. There are exciting moments and dull moments. All are equally important. Currently, few things keep me busy: my family, my students, grad school, and last but certainly not the least, my faith. It may sound like routine and not very exciting, but they are all valuable to me, and knowing this deeply makes life, as I see it, good.