Blue Shirt Khaki Pants – It’s a Thing: Jan Bourg
Jan Bourg has been teaching Calculus brilliantly for many years, and it’s only recently that I’ve been invited to be her teammate. And what a team we make!
Our personal lives and interests are as different as can be – she’s a proud grandma who coaches the Golf Team and stays in excellent shape, and I’m a middle-aged dad who coaches the Math Club and watches TV – but each time we meet to create meaningful learning experiences for the kids in our classes, our minds are very much in sync as we come up with incredible activities that neither of us could create by ourselves.
I rely on Jan heavily for her knowledge of the curriculum. After all, she has taught Calculus BC for many years, and has graded the AP Calculus exams, so she knows all of the nuances and specifics of what will be tested and graded each year. She also has a library of resources from other Calculus teachers across the country that can inspire us to create something original. In return, I provide some technological know-how when it comes to modernizing instruction, by creating online resources and activities, with our own website to house all of it. I also create higher-level intuitive questions beyond what the AP exam would ask. It’s that combination of give and take between Jan and me that makes it a true pleasure to work with her for my second year in Calculus BC.
Jan and I share a philosophy that a college-level course like Calculus should be challenging for students, but the experience of learning it in high school should be fun and forgiving. Whenever one of us wants to take a risk in changing the assessment style, the lesson order, or the grading method – even if it’s a last-minute decision – the other is always on board, and that’s the kind of trust and respect that should come with every team. And even though we take our role as educator seriously, we also know how to laugh at ourselves, each other, and the silly things that our students do year after year.
I am truly honored to be working with Jan for a second year, and have nothing but admiration for her as a teammate and friend. She is one of the reasons I am excited to come to work every day.