Friday, August 05, 2011

Where have I been?

I've been putting off writing this for a long while, but it's finally time.  Since January of 2010, I have gone through some life-changing experiences.  I posted already about my sister's death last February; that, plus some difficult health issues (mine and other people's) have made for an extremely trying time.  While many things about me have remained the same, overall, I feel like a different person now.

For the past eleven years, I have worked full-throttle at DCP, at a minimum of 50 hours per week, but often more like 60 or 70.  I poured all of my energy into improving my curriculum and instruction, providing extra support to my students and their families, and basically eating, sleeping, and breathing school.  Doing this was entirely my decision, though the realities we face at the school (students' low skill levels, ever increasing demands for success on testing, fewer and fewer spaces in the CSU system, and continually decreasing state funding that whittles away our program) create an environment in which the passionate teacher feels that working like this is necessary.  I've lasted longer than any other teacher there (I was awarded the Lobo of the Decade award!) but I realized earlier this year that I needed to make some changes and run my life differently.  I love teaching, and I did not want to leave the classroom, but I needed a new environment where I could finally have some balance.

This past year has not been all bad.  In fact, my girlfriend and I decided to get married last fall, and we ended up having the ceremony on July 3rd in Sunnyvale.  It was a beautiful wedding - we had a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony as the foundation, but we personalized it to make it fully egalitarian (as opposed to the traditional man's acquisition of the woman), and lots of our friends helped out to make the day amazing.  The wedding canopy was designed by two of our friends (one is the art teacher at DCP) - they presented us with an amazing quilted canopy covered in pictures of our family members.

The cake was created in our own kitchen by my wife's friend.  The kitchen was a disaster at the end, but the cake came out really well.  It fit right in with our rainbow theme.  And the cake topper was created by another friend of ours - based off of some pictures of Jen and me!

Besides the Chuppah and the cake, we had lots of other friends help with running all the details of the day. We had a fantastic time, and the whole weekend flew by incredibly quickly.  We just got back from our honeymoon in Mendocino - neither of us had been there before, and we really loved it.  Very peaceful and beautiful, just what we needed.

My wife Jen is a teacher also, and she started work at a school in San Bruno (near the San Francisco airport) last year.  She loves it there, and they had a position open for this year, which I was hired for.  I'll be teaching IB Math Studies, a CAHSEE prep class, and Intensive Algebra 1.  I think this is a school environment in which I can do a good job for my students, but still be able to pursue outside interests, exercise, and take care of my health.  I've met most of the math department there, and they are all nice people, so I am looking forward to starting this new stage in my career.

I don't yet know what I'll do with this blog.  I need to find out if there are any school or district policies against blogging.  I don't intend to blog under a pseudonym.  Which reminds me - instead of my wife taking my last name, we combined our two names (Greene and Wekselbaum), and we've both legally changed our names.  So you can now call me Dan Wekselgreene.

In any case, I will leave this blog up indefinitely, since I know people are still finding it and downloading resources.  I enjoyed being part of the virtual math blogging community, and I've pretty much lost contact with everyone.  Hopefully, I will be able to post more in the future, and also find my way back into the fold (though not too far in - balance is the new name of the game!).  Good luck to everyone with the new school year, and may you also seek and find balance, so that you can stay strong both in and out of your classroom.


David said...

Thank you for leaving your blog up, it is a valuable resource.

I've been teaching IB Math Studies for 6 years now, so I might be a valuable resource for you, now that you are teaching it. Feel free to email me at davidwees AT g mail DOT com (email obfuscated for spammers) if you want any help or resources.

Dan Wekselgreene said...

Thanks, David. I'm sure I will contact you soon. I haven't even really looked at what the course is all about yet, but I'm sure you'll have lots of good advice/materials.

Jason Buell said...

Congrats to both you and Jen! I'm glad you've been able to find balance with your life. As you know, I've always found value in what you write so if you continue to blog I will follow along. If not, I'll continue to harass you through gmail :). Good luck at the new school. Still hoping our schedules match up at some point. Congratulations again.

Sue VanHattum said...

Congratulations! (I love your choice of name.)

Ricochet said...

I wish you all the best - you have helped me grow as a teacher and for that I will always be grateful!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Dan. You have been Superman for over a decade now, and that is just not sustainable. I hope your new job gives you the balance you need, although I know it won't be a 40 hour work week either. I've learned a grat deal from your blog; thank you so much. (I teach in Belmont.)

Juancho said...

Hello David,

I'm a new algebra 2 teacher this year and I've been pouring your site for ideas, slides, videos, etc. One day I want to be as awesome and resourceful as you are. The best of luck at your new job and new life as a married man!

Jose Rincon
Alg 2
Los Angeles, CA

Christy said...

Congratulations. Your blog was one of the first math blogs that I began to follow. I have found several things that I have used in my own math class with much success. All the best to you in your new school and life!

Zeno said...

Congratulations on your wedding and many good wishes for the future.

Sarah said...

Hi Dan,

It's good to hear a happy update from you. Congratulations to you and Jen! Happy marriage.

I hope that you are able to find a different work-life balance with your new position (weighted more on the life side). Good luck!

T. Banks said...

Congrats Dan,
Your page was the 1st blog that made me stop and pay attention and I still come to it ever day and use tons of your materials. Thanks for letting us know you are ok and more importantly happy!

cheesemonkeysf said...

Mazel tov, Dan!!! Wishing you and your wife a long and happy life together with good health and many blessings.

Your blog and your lessons regularly saved my life with my seemingly impossible Algebra 1 class this past year. Your creativity, generosity, and good-humored support (often with e-mail follow-ups) kept me afloat. Your lesson ideas and implementations are BRILLIANT and your students (old and new) are very lucky to have you in their lives.

I hope you continue blogging, but I would understand if you cannot. Reading the previous comments, I am grateful to know that I'll be able to "stalk" you through Jason Buell and Sue VanHattum. :)

I think of you as one of the great mensches of the math teacher-blogging community and I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with you. Thank you for everything you have shared and the many kindnesses you have shown.

- Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

Emily H. said...

This post makes me like you even more. I'm so happy you will continue to share your existing online resources, and I hope you will be able to share your future successes with us without sacrificing your personal life.

Your linear equation unit (starting with word problems then moving to abstract) changed the way I teach an entire quarter of algebra. In fact, an inclusion algebra 1 class I taught compared every problem to the tortoise and the hare situation long after I introduced y = mx + b. After 2 years of teaching word problems first, I will never go back. I hope that you will be able to share any similar strokes of genius in the future if your time allows.

Even though I don't know you, I was a little concerned about your long absence from your blog, so I'm quite happy to see good news in your post. :) Congratulations and good luck at your new school!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and thank you. Your material, questions, and insights are inspiring and important. Thank you again.

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for contributing all of this work to this blog. I found you after you stopped blogging, and I am glad you are taking care of yourself.
I hope where ever your travels take you, you are able to enjoy what you have.
It is a good testament to all teachers to maintain balance for yourself and your students.

Amy zimmer said...

Mazel Tov! Thank you for updating for us. I did wonder where you went and I am glad to know you are healthy and taking care of yourself.

My youngest daughter became a Bat Mitzvah last weekend, I am still recovering and preparing for finals.

I am blessed (tee-hee) with teaching Algebra 1A and pre-calc this year. I too have taught IB Math Studies, and LOVED it, though you tend to get some very weak students. I loved the projects and all the statistics.

Just wanted to let you know a fellow Bay Area math teacher and fellow MOT cares about you and has really appreciated your generous sharing of ideas and resources.

Amy in Sebastopol

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dan. I'm a little late to finding your latest update...I've been so overwhelmed as a first year teacher!

I am so glad to see you're revitalized and balancing your life more. It was an honor to watch you do your thing at DCP and help out in little ways. Your immense patience and ability to help students learn math even though they were ill-prepared is a testament to your enduring spirit and goodness.

I believe you influenced my classroom management philosophy considerably, as did Renee. You both made amazing impressions on me and I thank you both for helping me see how best to work with underserved students.

Peace to you this holiday season and in the upcoming year.


David Haas said...

I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

Sue VanHattum said...

This so-and-so spammed my blog with a dozen short comments linking to his site. I'd love to email him with my opinion of that behavior. I couldn't find contact info.

I can't believe this will be of use to him.