Lately I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on my high school experience. Maybe because I skipped my 10 year reunion, or maybe because I ran into my avuncular AP Calculus teacher at a conference recently. I try to remember what our class was like, but there’s not much I can recall. I remember my class was very small, so I got a lot of one-on-one attention. I remember working on slope fields while listening to Tupac. I remember my teacher giving us peppermints to help us focus during the AP exam, and I remember the feeling of accomplishment when I got my scores that summer and found out I had passed.
It has really made me think: what do I want my students to remember about my class? If they come back for a reunion in 10 years, what will they be saying about Calculus? I won’t be so vainglorious as to proclaim that all my students will remember every skill I ever taught them, but I do hope for a few things. I hope they remember how to use the chain rule by eating M&M’s. Maybe they’ll still have the quotient rule memorized (that silly little formula gets easily stuck in one’s brain). I hope they remember how beautiful calculus can be, even in its most challenging moments. I hope they feel a sense of accomplishment when looking back, and maybe it’ll even inspire some of them to pursue a career in mathematics.
Although it may not be something I strive for, I know one thing my students will always remember about my class: cupcakes.
More about that next time. (Hopefully I’ll be feeling more Hemingway-esque then!)