Learning is a process that enables us to progress

The blog of a pre-professional English and biology teacher from Regina, Sakatchewan.

Ten weeks ago: I signed up for an internship placement in a particular school with a particular teacher, who was one of the few high school English teachers in my entire province offering to take an intern.

Four weeks ago: My classmates start getting their placement confirmations. I get nothing.

Three weeks ago: Nothing.

Two weeks ago: Nothing.

13 days ago: Placement confirmation letter! It says that my school and principal have already received their own confirmation letter, and that they will be expecting my call. It is the weekend, and I have to wait until Monday to call.

10 days ago: I call the school using the contact info in my confirmation letter. The voice on the other end is confused.

"You’re calling for [principal]? Yeah, he’s not… this isn’t his school. This is [school]. He works at [other school]."

I am given a different phone number. It is not even remotely close to the first one (there was no typo error).

I call that phone number, somewhat more cautiously. It is the right one. When my call is transferred to the principal, I gather up my nerve and cheerfully announce, “Hi, this is [Mx Learninginprogress], your intern for the fall!”

"…We got an intern?"

"…Yes? That’s what my letter says."

"We haven’t gotten any mail from the university in a while. They told us weeks ago that we were getting taken out of the running, and we weren’t getting an intern."

"…Ah. So, uh…"


"Well, uh, it’s nice to have you!"

Whew. Internal crisis averted. Shush, anxiety.

He’s good at rolling with the punches, I’ll say that. So everything has worked out fine so far. :)

But 10$ says that the school won’t have received its own internship paperwork by the time I meet with my co-op tomorrow. uwu


As the school year draws to a close, it’s important to say it again. We believe teachers deserve better.


(via wincherella)




MATH MYTHS: (from Mind over Math)

Research has failed to show any difference between men and women in mathematical ability. Men are reluctant to admit they have problems so they express difficulty with math by saying, “I could do it if I tried.” Women are often too ready to admit inadequacy and say, “I just can’t do math.”

Few people are aware that intuition is the cornerstone of doing math and solving problems. Mathematicians always think intuitively first. Everyone has mathematical intuition; they just have not learned to use or trust it. It is amazing how often the first idea you come up with turns out to be correct.

Creativity is as central to mathematics as it is to art, literature, and music. The act of creation involves diametrical opposites—working intensely and relaxing, the frustration of failure and elation of discovery, satisfaction of seeing all the pieces fit together. It requires imagination, intellect, intuition, and aesthetic about the rightness of things.

Getting the answer to a problem and knowing how the answer was derived are independent processes. If you are consistently right, then you know how to do the problem. There is no need to explain it.

A math problem may be solved by a variety of methods which express individuality and originality-but there is no best way. New and interesting techniques for doing all levels of mathematics, from arithmetic to calculus, have been discovered by students. The way math is done is very individual and personal and the best method is the one which you feel most comfortable.

The ability to obtain approximate answer is often more important than getting exact answers. Feeling about the importance of the answer often are a reversion to early school years when arithmetic was taught as a feeling that you were “good” when you got the right answer and “bad” when you did not.

There is nothing wrong with counting on fingers as an aid to doing arithmetic. Counting on fingers actually indicates an understanding of arithmetic-more understanding than if everything were memorized.

Solving new problems or learning new material is always difficult and time consuming. The only problems mathematicians do quickly are those they have solved before. Speed is not a measure of ability. It is the result of experience and practice.

Knowing math means that concepts make sense to you and rules and formulas seem natural. This kind of knowledge cannot be gained through rote memorization.

10. MATH IS DONE BY WORKING INTENSELY UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED. Solving problems requires both resting and working intensely. Going away from a problem and later returning to it allows your mind time to assimilate ideas and develop new ones. Often, upon coming back to a problem a new insight is experienced which unlocks the solution.

Belief in myths about how math is done leads to a complete lack of self-confidence. But it is self-confidence that is one of the most important determining factors in mathematical performance. We have yet to encounter anyone who could not attain his or her goals once the emotional blocks were removed.

There is no formula, rule, or general guideline which will suddenly unlock the mysteries of math. If there is a key to doing math, it is in overcoming anxiety about the subject and in using the same skills you use to do everything else.

Source: “Mind Over Math,” McGraw-Hill Book Company, pp. 30-43.

Revised: Summer 1999 
Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC)
Southwest Texas State University

Photo: http://math2033.uark.edu/wiki/index.php/MathBusters

Reblogging so I can remember to tell my students this when they say they suck at math. 


Remind me to post the story of how my university told my internship school that they weren’t getting an intern, sent them no internship paperwork, and then three weeks later told me the wrong contact information for that school. It’s a good one.

Asker macaristic Asks:
Hello! I am applying for a masters of Ed, with an autism/early intervention focus. I was just wondering if you had any kids with autism in your class/any advice for someone looking to work with pre-k students??
learninginprogress learninginprogress Said:


My first full-time teaching gig was at a charter school for students with Autism Spectrum disorder, ADHD, and Emotional/Behavior needs.  So, yes, I’ve taught students with autism.   It is such an umbrella of a diagnosis that I am hesitant to give advice one working with students that have been diagnosed on the spectrum.  Each kid will have different strengths and weaknesses, like any other kid.   Their minds just may work differently, but that doesn’t mean they are lesser.  Oftentimes, a different way of thinking allows an individual to be successful in areas others are not.  The best thing you can do is be an ear to listen, a guiding hand for things that are difficult for the child to navigate, and always be aware how amazing they are and help them use their awesomeness to their best advantage.  Remember, they don’t need fixing.  They do often need support in utilizing their strengths and dealing with things that are difficult for them —- just like any other kid.  I think Dr. Temple Grandin (not a medical doctor, she has her doctorate) opened my eyes most to what Autism can be like to live with and how it varies so greatly from person to person.  I most definitely recommend picking up her book, Thinking in Pictures. 

As far as looking into working with pre-k students in general, I’d join the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  They have a discounted student membership.  This will get you online access to their journal Young Children and then you can get the print version of Young Children or Teaching Young Children.  Teaching Young Children is just pre-k related teaching ideas while YC is more Pre-K through third grade (with an emphasis on the younger end).   I have learned a lot from both journals and implemented many ideas from there.

My district uses the Creative Curriculum and I know a lot of other programs as well as daycare / independent preks use it as well.  You might look into its corner stone values.

Finally, most of the pre-K students I work with that have needed early intervention have needed speech and/or language therapy.  This is often in addition to other services.  As a classroom teacher, it will be your job to support what the SPL is doing in his/her sessions.  I make an effort to stay informed on best practices to build language and help with speech in the classroom (feedback loops, prompting, intentionally teaching vocabulary, modeling grammar, etc.)

Hope this helps!



Alternatives to traditional homework

There are some great ideas here.

Just got my letter (email) of welcome from the school division superintendent. The fall semester officially starts the day after my hugely important appointment with the tightly booked psychiatrist. Cue MASSIVE RELIEF.

My first meeting with my internship co-op and principal is in 4 days. It’s gonna require a 4 hour drive starting at 5:30 AM, but I would happily do that for a principal who said, “Oh, your minor is biology? I’ll make sure to tug our two science teachers into the meeting as well so that we make sure you pick up some science classes in the fall, too.”

And I discovered that the internship-prep session my co-op picked is going to be heavily populated with my friends from university courses. We’ll all get to have one last get-together before heading into internship.

Now I just have to get through the last two weeks of these spring courses.

…When the heck did I get 35 followers?

…When the heck did I get 35 followers?

Asker kingcornetto Asks:
Hey, I'm an aspiring writer with AS and I've said how much I loved your blog more than once, and that you're cool, but I'm still a teenager and I'm really sad all the time and detached. In your experience did it get better? Does it fuel your work?
learninginprogress learninginprogress Said:



It got better for me. It will probably get better for you.

Here’s the thing: Being a teenager sucks. People who tell you that these should be the best years of your life are fucking deluded. Your brain is a mess, and it’s not because you have AS (although that makes it harder, or at least hard in different ways): it’s because it and your body are in a stage of off-the-rails weird and rapid development. At the same time, intellectually, you’re pretty close to an adult, which makes it even harder to wrap your head around how transient and irrational the rest of the upheaval is; and you’re probably dealing with a level of social and personal pressure that would be enough to make most people come a little unhinged even without all the preceding baggage.

Which is to say: being unhappy is a pretty reasonable response to being a teenager. 

That said, if you’re unhappy to an extent that’s seriously impacting the quality of your life and your ability to or interest in living it—and especially if you’re considering harming yourself or someone else—it’s time to to seek support. I don’t know what your family or school situations are like, but you might find it helpful to have a therapist or another adult in a helping position who’s a little removed from your day-to-day life. Mental illness and the threshold for intervention are, for the most part, issues of degree: anywhere short of a crisis, what constitutes a tolerable level of discomfort or lack of comfort is a call you’re going to need to make, or at least be part of making.

Apropos of making that call, here are some things I wish someone had told me when I was your age, although I’m not sure I’d have listened. Your mileage may vary:

Unnecessary suffering is not productive, virtuous, or mature. That is a lie we tell poor people and artists, because romanticizing misery is a great way to quash revolutions before they start. Don’t buy in.

It’s okay to want to be happy. It’s not selfish—and, if it is, well, fuck, it’s also okay to want things that make your life better. It does not make you a bad person, and seeking help is not a shortcut or cheating.

It’s okay to like things that are not productive. I know, right? This is pretty obvious. But until I was in college, I was deeply suspicious and ashamed of any happiness that came from things I saw as frivolous. Permission to enjoy things regardless their social value is, for me, pretty fundamental to spanning the gap between functional and okay.


I spent most of my teen years spiraling towards and through a breakdown. The year I was 16 was, by any reasonable subjective or objective standard, the worst year of my life. At 31, I’m pretty happy: there’s a lot I still have trouble with, and a lot I’m still figuring out, and I don’t have all my shit together, but I can live with all of that in a way I couldn’t 15 years ago. There are other factors that have contributed to that, but the most significant by far is time. Who I am now is not someone I could have been at 16, or 26; I imagine that in another few years, I’ll be able to say something similar about 31. Being a person, and being any good at being a person, is an ongoing, very cumulative process. You’re really early on. In video game terms, you keep getting killed in the ice caves ‘cause you won’t get the fire sword for another few levels.

I saved the last question—whether it fuels my work—for last, because that’s still really painful and difficult territory for me to navigate. I am an incredibly private person, to an extent that swerves pretty far into dysfunction, and that heavily informs what I do and don’t write publicly about. At my best, I would like to be braver, but that exchange—trading privacy and control for a wider scope and probably better work—is one that’s very difficult for me to convince myself to make.

On the other hand: Where I’ve been is, inextricably, part of who I am, and who I am inextricably informs what and how I write. And who I was and how shitty my life was when I was a teenager has definitely and directly fueled what I’m writing to you right now.


Be patient with yourself, and what you feel, and who you are. All of them are worth honoring, and all of them will change.

So Much Love,

P.S. There’s a confidential postscript in your askbox. For verification purposes: whimsyandbrimstone is my root account.