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Eberly Eases First Year with Rhymes and Jokes

Math+teacher+Alexander+Eberly+solves+a+math+problem+on+the+board+while+showing+his+silly+side.+
Math teacher Alexander Eberly solves a math problem on the board while showing his silly side.

Math teacher Alexander Eberly solves a math problem on the board while showing his silly side.

Ashley Kahn

Ashley Kahn

Math teacher Alexander Eberly solves a math problem on the board while showing his silly side.

Cezanne Lossing-Cann, Commentary Editor

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Up on the third floor stands room 397, the walls are plastered with inspirational quotes and motivational posters depicting determined athletes and rolling hills. The standard 6×6 grid of desks is sits  empty,  a few students sitting in their lunch time lull. At the front of the classroom sits Alexander Eberly, a first year teacher of Algebra 2 and AB calculus.

With the first week came the school’s first impressions of Austin High School’s newest math teacher.

“I might have embarrassed myself a little bit.” Eberly said. “I honestly tried to be as corny as possible. I just started listing words that rhymed and dealt with football and Austin High in general.”

Back in the classroom Eberly brings up his use of math jokes in the classroom.

“There’s a lot of bad math jokes out there and I think that they are all hilarious,” Eberly said. A couple of students snicker behind their pizza and chips. “I think they would tell you no in front of my face but I know deep down they appreciate it.”

Papers sit in small, shuffled stacks on the two part wooden desk in the front corner of the classroom.

“I need to be a little more organized, “ Eberly said. “As a student teacher it was nice to have somebody with experience in the room. They could help with class management and really the organization. Now that it’s all me, and only me in charge of these and the kids itself, it’s just more responsibilities is the best I can say it. It’s so rewarding but papers are hard to keep up with.”

Originally, Eberly came to Austin for UT’s engineering program .After being rejected from the program with a 3.9 GPA, Eberly was left not knowing what to do next.

“I did not want to be a teacher at first. I was trying to be an engineer, because they get the big bucks, I was always good at math, and science, and school. That’s why I tried engineering. I wasn’t sure what to do and started reaching out to my sister. She told me about the Uteach program, where I could be a math major and still do what I wanted to do as an engineer.”

After moving through the UTeach program and teaching elementary, middle, and high school kids, Eberly found what age group he preferred to teach. With elementary lacking in student independence and middle school being too awkward, high schoolers proved to be the most sociable.

“I didn’t want to have to do the babysitting stuff,” Eberly said. “Elementary I realized you have to baby them, kids need help tying their shoe and going to the bathroom. Middle school everybody is just a little bit awkward still. Nobody talked as much and also I liked high school because of how social it is. In the classroom people talk more and we can talk about the math.”

Next to the teacher desk stands a metal cart topped with a commonly seen doc cam, ready to project the next classes scrawled on warm ups, homework assignments, and neatly typed notes.

“I try to start with a joke,” Eberly said. “It’s just a normal class in terms of we have notes that we have to go over and then i try to have homework time at the end. But one thing that I do try to do is any time I’m working on the board i call out the students. I’ll call out individual students and ask ‘Hey what do you think I should do next?”

Some numbers, written onto the whiteboard by the class before stand out in dark blue dry erase marker.

“It helps sometimes if a student shows everybody their work, because you can see a student’s thought process which is different then my thought process,” Eberly said. “I’ll have them come up in a pair and work on the whiteboard. I like to let them present in pairs that way if people are very nervous presenting to the front of the class, so if you go with a buddy, a lot of the time it takes off the presser of presenting to the class.”

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Eberly Eases First Year with Rhymes and Jokes