These Twenty Things

I get to wake up without an alarm clock going off for the next 14 days. I will eat leftover grilled ribeye steak for breakfast and Cheerios for lunch. I will drink IPA for dinner and go to my mailbox in my pajamas. I will take a luxurious bath. 

As we wrap up 2016, I’d like to humbly share these 20 things that I have done — or will/want to do — and suggest that you too may want to do some of these things as a human and as a teacher.

  1. Find a reason to make caramelized onions. You can add it to your favorite pasta sauce or mashed potatoes.
  2. Call a parent to let her know how much you appreciate having her kid in your class. Maybe the kid is struggling in your class, but nonetheless, he is kind and laughs at all your jokes.
  3. Listen to country music to realize that your pain ain’t so bad after all — not the country from Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw or any of them pretty boys — I mean outlaw country music from David Allan Coe and Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.
  4. Lie to your students that they were always on your mind during winter break, then let them hear Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind.
  5. Watch La Maison en Petits Cubes by Kunio Katō. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2008.
  6. Make hot chocolate for each kid in your favorite class. Seriously. (Point out to your non-favorite classes that they’d done a poor job in sucking up to you, hence going forward, they ought to try harder.)
  7. Stop consuming products with the label “lite” on it. Sure, it might mean 1/3 fewer calories and 1/2 less fat, but did you know it also means 1/10 of the taste?!
  8. Ask your students, “Did you know that diarrhea is genetic?” Let them ponder that for a few seconds, then say, “Yeah, it runs in your jeans.”
  9. Buy the latest book from #MTBoS: Tracy, Christopher, Mike, John and Matt, Edmund, Malke. (I’m sure I’m missing some people. Please help me out.)
  10. Treat the entire 180 days of school as flu season, spray bleach on everything in your classroom. Avoid the students’ eyeballs.
  11. Finish reading The Sound of Gravel. (For God’s sake, make time to read a non-nerdy book!)
  12. Lie — yes, again! — to your students that you’d graded all their papers over winter break. Then know that you’re fucked and must skip dinner [and life] to grade papers like a squirrel on crack that evening.
  13. Make something from scratch that you’ve never made before, like a baguette. If it comes out looking and tasting like shit, toss it immediately and buy frozen. (Ashli‘s number will be on speed dial as I attempt this.)
  14. Remind students that kindness trumps everything you do in your classroom.
  15. Be kind to yourself. Buy that item you didn’t get for Christmas from your favorite person who is now no longer your favorite. If you sleep next to this person, scream, “I hate you!” in the middle of the night like you are dreaming, except you aren’t.
  16. Connect with your students. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. Difficult decisions aren’t so difficult when we all put children first.
  17. Go to church, go to counseling, go to a friend. Reach out to someone because talking about stuff helps. Writing stuff down helps too. But it’s best to meet up with that person because a good hug is worth the drive.
  18. You are part of a team. Find the rest of your team and collaborate and share strategies and seek solutions. Leave the whiners and downers in the teachers’ lounge.
  19. Let’s not make a list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s like the goddamn pacing guide, sets us up for failure every time. Just repeat #15 above — minus the psycho screaming part, do that just once. Okay, twice. Definitely not more than three times.
  20. Critique the effectiveness of your lesson, not by what answers students give, but by what questions they ask.
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  1. Donna Mockenhaupt
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Dear Fawn,

    I wanna be you when I grow up. The end.

    Donna ?

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Dear Donna, Flattery will get you everywhere. And everything. Please keep it up. Thank you for dropping in and making me smile.

  2. stephanie s reilly
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    #20 is my favorite. Thanks Fawn.

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Phew. So glad I didn’t waste your time reading through to #20, Stephanie. :) Thank you so much.

    • Jennifer Brackney
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      I agree #20 was my favorite. I think I will need to make a poster to put by desk to remind me everyday during 2017!

  3. Dan Kenley
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    I have read thousands of blog posts over the course of the past five years…this is my “all-time” favorite! You have brightened my morning and day!!

    Thank You!!
    Dan ?

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      HA!! Hi Dan. All I wonder is what the hell you’ve been reading these past 5 years. :) Much obliged. Your comment made my day! Thank you so much.

  4. Nancy Ventresca
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Fawn,
    A truly fabulous and well rounded list. I will aspire to follow your lead. Happy Holidays!

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Hi Nancy. Happy Holidays to you and yours! Thank you for your note.

  5. Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    You make me laugh. I have some of those books already. (#9) Plus I’ve got James Tanton’s The Power of Mathematics Visualization from The Great Courses to watch. I didn’t know he was Australian! So far I’ve had to watch the lectures more than once. I’m so glad you are part of my greater TEAM!

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi Michelle. Because James Tanton is Australian that you have to watch the lectures more than once? :) Still remember the first time I met him in Palo Alto, I was supposed to just introduce myself to the group, but I went on and on how much I love his work and blah blah blah. So embarrassing. Thank you for dropping in.

  6. Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Fawn you are the bomb -LOL numerous times!

    • Fawn
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Hi Alex. I miss you and think about you each and every time I draw a circle! Thank you for dropping in. Hope you are well.

  7. Sandy Portillo-Robin
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Fawn,
    I always look forward to reading your new blog posts. Thanks for the list, my favorites are #19 and #8 – will also finish at least one book over the holidays. It was nice meeting you at CMC-N too. Happy Holidays!

  8. Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Geez! I’m commenting the same day I get this and I’m so far down the list!!
    I love your blogs. My goal is to figure out how to say “this trumps something” – without saying the T word-I don’t want to say that word for a while. Like 4 years. I’ve already blown it in a conversation yesterday. Help me figure out something else to say, Thesaurus Fawn…

  9. Dan Allen
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Fawn,

    Great list, thanks for posting. Now I know why my wife has been screaming I hate you “in her sleep” every night. Need to get better at Christmas shopping lol.

    All the best,


  10. Toby Gordon
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Hey Fawn,

    Forget all of the “best of 2016” lists in the NY Times. THIS is the best list.

    Happy holidays to you–

3 Trackbacks

  • […] Fawn Nguyen – What can you say about Fawn? Her brash and direct writing give her the room to discuss what it means to really care about your students, and to share he joy of mathematics and the empowerment that comes from learning how to be a problem solver. I will read every word that Fawn writes for us. […]

  • […] These Twenty Things by Fawn at Finding Ways – it’s a post by Fawn. Do I really have to say more? […]

  • By 2019 Is an Odd Number on February 14, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    […] this time, two years ago, I wrote These Twenty Things — the nerve I had to suggest we should do this and that. But, I do wish I had more time to […]

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