# Math, Flexible Thinking

My fourth graders had a burning question all year long: How old are you?

I’m not so much embarrassed by my age, as I am shocked at how quickly I got to this ripe spot in my timeline.  However, having said that, I do not directly answer that question.

Instead, I always give the students an equation on the last day of school. It usually involves a cube root. “But you didn’t teach us that!” they complain. And my reply is, “When you learn what that means, you’ll have earned the answer to your question.”

This year one of my fourth graders told me she didn’t need to know a cube root to figure out my age. Curiosity engaged, I asked her how she proposed to find the answer to her question.

Easy. You told us you were in sixth grade when John F. Kennedy died, so I can figure it out without a cube root.” And off she went to find a JFK biography in our class library.

Which reminds me of two things. One, be careful what personal facts you reveal. And two, being flexible thinkers in math is just as important as working through an equation.

# And so it goes…

Yesterday, after 360 days together, my students and I said good-bye. From here on, they are off to Middle School and, in all probability, we will not cross paths again. It was, for me, a bittersweet moment. And perhaps it was for some of them as well.

We’ve had our share of challenges and our share of triumphs. In our Morning Meetings over the last week, the kids and I shared what we are most proud of accomplishing and the times when we’ve been embarrassed. Sometimes I’m grateful Teacher does not see everything.

For me, I am proud that the kids have learned that I expect them to persevere. We don’t give up. I think that was embodied by their effort in our school-wide tug-o-war. The kids had a strategy for pulling together this year and, even though one class member might have wanted to be in the coveted anchor position, together they decided who, for the common good, would be the best in that position.

During the awards assembly, they clapped for each other, congratulated classmates from other homerooms. They made me proud to know them, even for just a little while. When I took a last snapshot with my phone yesterday, the kids insisted it wasn’t a “selfie”; it was an “us-ie”.

So, we go on about our lives. We take different pathways and maybe once in a while we will stop to remember each other and the special two years we spent in each others’ company.