Math = Love: Algebra 2 Letters of Advice

Friday, May 16, 2014

Algebra 2 Letters of Advice

I gave my Algebra 2 students prompt as my Algebra 1 students.  Write a one page letter of advice to a student taking Algebra 2 next year.  As always, the letters were funny, enlightening, serious, profound, and reflective.  Of course, not all of the letters were all of those things.  There was the student who added an s to the end of every single word in their letter.

My reflections?  Again, I feel like my classroom management problems are evident in these letters.  I got super strict after Christmas.  As a first year teacher, I had 65 students spread out over 6 class periods.  It was heavenly.  This year, I have 85 students in those same 6 class periods.  Used to have so few students, I had few rules, requirements, and procedures in my classroom.  The increase in class size led to an increase in discipline problems.  And, I've had to make a lot of changes to how I do things in my classes.  Next year, I want to set procedures and consequences from the start of the year instead of half way through the year.  I'm expecting even larger class sies next year, so it is imperative that I get a handle on this problem.

My Students Reflect On This Year

I didn't take this class seriously and I failed the eoi.  I disliked taking this class and learning Algebra II.  Once I took Algebra 1 and I passed the eoi and felt good.  I liked making a journal and doing arts and crafts, but I didn't like doing all the worksheets and homework.  I didn't like the fact that I didn't get to chill and didn't get to laugh.  "Ok, you shouldn't be talking."  You will hear this 360,012,140 times this year, and you will never learn not to talk because everyone likes to talk to everyone.  I loved learning about math and great things about graphs on the very smart calculator because you feel like you love to love it!  I loved this class.

Dear Concerned Student,
By reading this letter, you are obviously in Algebra II.  Don't panic, yet.  Firstly, lose your phone.  You'll have it taken within seconds of having it out.  Your teacher, Ms. Sarah Hagan, is an amazing teacher, but she tolerates nothing.  You can't even suggest a movie; she'll just shoot you down!  Don't ever expect to walk into class and do nothing...we always do something.  Yes, that means everyday.  When you start getting into the work, such as notebooks, worksheets, etc, be sure to keep up.  Missing one day of school will be the worst thing you could do. 

This class could be fun if you make it that way.

To whomever this concerns, if you plan on taking this class - stop, reevaluate your life and take another class other than this one, you will not enjoy the pain you will endure in this room.  Just kidding.

The quadratic formula is actually kind of entertaining.

If you're reading this, you're most likely in Algebra II.  I am so sorry.

This class is easy.  Remember your manners and behave for Ms. Hagan, and this year will pass by quick.

If you take one class that you decide to pay attention in, this is it.  At times you might have to sacrifice free time and sleep to complete the work.

Always ask for help, and I can promise you'll receive it.  I spent many lunch periods and afternoons with Ms. Hagan.  She will give you extra help as long as you ask for it.  Try your best not to copy people's work.  It might help you pass the class, but it isn't going to help you pass the EOI.  Throughout the year, you may get some bad grades, but always keep working.  Never give up on trying to succeed.

In Algebra II, you can't get behind.  You will be completely lost and behind all year.  If you just pay attention, it's not that hard.  You've just got to stay on top of things.  If you get confused, come in before school, after school, or during lunch.  That will really help you pass your test.  Make sure you know how to use the graphing calculator, that makes everything much much simpler.

My Students Talk About What To Do And Not Do

My advice to a student that plans on taking Algebra 2 next year is to actually try in class.  If you miss one day or even one hour of this class you will be so far behind its not even funny...Don't cheat either because that won't get you far.  It will just bring you more work and it will make it harder for you.

Make sure you don't talk a lot during class because Ms. Hagan will kill you.

Refrain from sleeping.  It doesn't help you.

This class can be a challenge.  You'll fail quizzes or possibly tests.  Be sure to limit yourself from distractions.

If you don't pay attention you will be lost and confused easily.  This class can be very fun and easy to remember the stuff you learn in this class if you just listen, pay attention, and do your work.  You need to keep up with your work or you will fail.

My advice to you would be don't procrastinate; finish your work asap.  If you ever need help don't be afraid to ask Ms. Hagan.  She will help you and doesn't make you feel stupid while doing so.

P.S. Don't be like me.  Keep your cell phone put away.

Try to consciously understand what she is teaching and if you don't then ask for help.  Keep your phone away in class because it will do nothing but distract you.  Be sure to keep your notebook up to date because it is your road map to Algebra 2.  The number one thing is DON'T GET BEHIND.  Everything in this subject builds on what you were just taught

Do not ever show up to class without your notebook or pencil.  Do not copy off someone you will not learn anything...Don't ever have your phone out because you will get it taken away.  You need to always pay attention...It would be really smart to stay quiet and listen because if you don't you will get yelled at and sent off to the office.  Take this advice really seriously.

Don't sit by one of your friends because it makes it hard to learn anything in this class.  Don't miss anything in your notebook because it helps a lot in class.  Be very respectful of Ms. Hagan because it will help you because she can make this class a lot easier.

Just pay attention in class and actually do your work by yourself.  If you have a question don't be afraid to ask Ms. Hagan won't bite your head off.  She actually likes you when you ask questions."

More advice: keep your work turned in.  Zeros will kill you, and surprisingly it helps you understand your work better if you do your homework.

If  you're copying someone, make sure your partner isn't as stupid as you are.

This class can be fun if you let it be.  Step 1 - do not have your phone out the first semester or you will have a terrible version of Ms. Hagan the 2nd semester.  Step 2 - treat Ms. Hagan with respect or you will get the same result.

Make sure to do all your assignments and show all your work.  Do not sit by your friends because you will get extremely behind.

#1 Rule: Make sure you don't have your phone out in class when the bell rings or she will take it.

My Students Talk About Notebooks and Calculators

Algebra 2 is a fun class.  Lots of meaningful, colorful notes...You get awesome calculators.  You fold and make cool things.  Hope your year was as fun as mine.

You'll probably love the notebooks because they're very helpful.  I loved them when I had homework.

This class is fun but difficult at the same time.  There are these amazing things called graphing calculators.  Make sure you pay attention when you learn new things about them and you will for sure pass.

You will need a notebook and you will fill up every page and you will color and glue and cut out things all the time.  You will feel like you're in preschool again.

One of the most important things you can do in this class is show your work, even if she doesn't say you have to (which she usually will).  Another thing that helped in this class was I learned how to use the calculators, but I would use them as little as possible.

Pay attention on how to use the calculator.  It will be your best friend in the classroom while you're doing your work.

My advice for you would be to listen to her instructions, turn in all work, number the pages of your notebook, write down the titles for each section in your notebook when you do that section that day, and learn how to use your calculator because they will help you so much for the test.

You also need to learn how to use a graphing calculator because it will be your best friend in this class.

This class is very good.  Your teacher is the best teacher in the whole high school...I love this class because the teacher is an awesome one.  You will be making notebooks instead of using your books.  The notebook is my favorite part of this whole class.  You get to use graphing calculators.  They are the most useful things in this whole class.  You can use the calculators for almost everything in this class.  When you go over long division, pay attention.  There is questions on the EOI.  Don't freak out.  You get to use your calculator.  The class will get you very prepared for the test.  This class is not very easy.  You have to pay attention all the time.  You will get in trouble often if you talk.  She does everything on the Smart Board.  You are not allowed to have your phone on in class.

Hopefully you like coloring, writing, folding, and cutting because you will do a ton of that in your notebook.  When cutting the papers for your notebook make sure you ask before you start cutting away on your paper!

Don't mess up on one thing in your notebook because if you miss one thing it's a zero so take the time to make sure it's all finished.

Stay focused on your work especially the notebook.  You will be writing A LOT in this class.  Your notebook is a huge part of your grade.

The notebook is IMPORTANT.  She will fail you if you do not have it.

My Students Talk About Me

Ms. Hagan don't play games.  She's on a mission.  She is gonna teach you no matter what you want.  She will teach different ways to do everything.  So you have plenty of ways to do each problem.

Ms. Hagan is a super good teacher so she'll help you out a lot.  But be sure to always give her your full attention; especially after Christmas break, just saying.

Having Ms. Hagan as a teacher really helped me understand math a lot better.  She's really good about staying after school to help you fix your grade and make sure you pass.

If you want to be on Ms. Hagan's good side, just do what she asks and pay attention.

Ms. Hagan can be cranky.  On those days, it would be best to just do the work and avoid looking her in the eye.

Ms. Hagan is a phone Nazi, so keep the thing hidden.

Also she does not care if you have a job or not she still wants her packet.

She made math easy and fun.  If you don't get something the first time going over it, then just be patient.  You'll get it eventually.  Never ever I mean ever get your phone out in her class.  You will lose it.

My Students Talk About Killing The Cat

P.S. Don't kill the cat; you will learn about this next year!  It is really important!

Even if you hate cats, don't kill the poor thing.

Another important thing is to never kill the cat.  I don't think anyone really understands this rule, but I guess it worked.

Don't kill the cat (not quite sure what it means but she gets ticked about it.)

Oh, DON'T KILL THE CAT!! It upsets her...

 My Students Give Random Advice

You may never use any of this in real life, but the State of OKLAHOMA makes you learn it.  Sounds stupid but you have to!

Stay classy, not trashy!

P.S.S. Do math, not meth.

So good luck.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Yous musts be goods ats algebras.  Dos nots sleeps.  Yous justs steppeds intos as years ofs tortures.  Pays attentions tos everythings.  Don'ts copies offs peoples.  Haves as goods times.  Don'ts kills thes kats.

Welcome to one year of torture with Professor Sarah Hagan.  Are you prepared for an extremely challenging year in which you shall most likely lose all sanity?  Well!  You should be!  I hope you survive this year of suffering and despair with all of your sanity in tact.


  1. Your students are so funny!

    I love that they know how important their notebooks are!

    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Hodges Herald

    1. They definitely are! This group of students was really against the idea of the notebooks at the beginning of the year. They eventually came around, but it was long process! I'm hoping that next year's bunch will be able to just jump into the notebooks. Showing them what last year's class wrote might help with this.

  2. I pop in here occasionally as an ex-classroom teacher and now a homeschool mum (I'm from Australia, so we spell things differently too).

    This post cracked me! Love the way they have somehow put the onus on learning onto you - you MAKE them pay attention, MAKE them do their notes in class, MAKE them do their homework! And they learn stuff. Whoda thunk it???? But they also obviously appreciate your efforts to help them on their way :-) Nice work, Ms Hagan!

    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! It means a lot to me. Glad my students could give you a laugh!

  3. The letters of advice is a great idea. I have tried it when I was a classroom teacher. I think it might make sense to use for my individual tutoring students as well.