Two unrelated things

I’ve been thinking about an Iron Man video game lately. Now, to my knowledge, there’s not one currently in development; my point is there should be, and after the huge success of the Spider-Man and Miles Morales games, I would love to see Insomniac take a whack at it. I’m watching a playthrough of the new Guardians of the Galaxy game (which I don’t currently intend to play) as well and that seems to have captured pretty well what a team-based video game ought to be.

What’s got me excited is the prospect of customizability. Imagine a game where you’re constantly unlocking or finding or inventing (call it what you want) new modes and upgrades and powers for your armor, and then give you the ability to swap those pieces out at will, then skin everything however you like so that you can use whatever classic Iron Man colors you want, from the classic red and gold to the Silver Centurion to the short-lived-but-gorgeous black and gold suit to the Superior Iron Man white suit. Ideally you’d end up with something similar to Ghost of Tsushima where there are tons of reason why you might swap out a suit or a few pieces for a specific purpose. I loved how that game never let you get comfortable with a suit of armor; some would be better for stealth, some were straight-up dueling armors, some were more suited for archery and so on. And if the character is Iron Man, someone who could literally be fighting in dozens of different environments? C’mon.

There has not, to my knowledge, been a really good game yet featuring a character who can fly. The Spider-Man games have come the closest (and yes, I have played the Xbox 360 Iron Man game from 2008) and obviously Spider-Man doesn’t actually fly but they nailed the way he moves. C’mon, y’all, make this game happen so I can play it for a thousand years.


On the way home from my dad’s house this evening it crossed my mind that I’ve been stuck at 42 followers for my YouTube channel for a minute now. I am putting a lot of work into this channel, and (and this is not just me, for the record) it is significantly more difficult to pick up followers on YouTube than any other form of social media I’m aware of, and frankly right now the only strategy I have is “make good content and wait for people to find it,” which … well, that’s certainly not a bad strategy, but what it also isn’t is fast. Ironically, I realized just after getting home that that elusive 43rd follower had found me– and, as it happens, he’d left his followers open, so I could see who he was. Typically YouTubers keep their follow lists private, so most of the time when someone follows you only know because the little number ticks up by one and you don’t get any information about who’s followed you.

And he appears to be a middle-school-aged black kid, which immediately brought up the obvious question of whether he was one of my students. And here’s the fascinating bit– I don’t think he is, but I’m not 100% sure despite the fact that he’s posted a couple of videos where his face is visible. Why am I not sure? Because I don’t really know what most of my current students look like, since they wear masks all the fucking time. Especially given how fast these kids’ faces change at this age, if the video I’m looking at is more than six months or so old it’s entirely possible that he’s one of mine and I just don’t recognize him.

Fucked-up, that.

In which it really isn’t

Every 8th grader in the corporation takes the PSAT right around this time each year, mostly as an indicator of high-school readiness; if a kid enrolls in a high school out of district one of the things they pull as they evaluate the kid is the PSAT score. Now, we let them know early and often that this isn’t precisely the best measuring tool for this purpose (and I don’t know who made the decision to start using this test, but I’d like to have a word with them) and that, particularly on the math portion of the test, there’s gonna be some stuff they don’t know.

Now, the thing is, we’ve only been using the PSAT for a couple of years, and last year, I didn’t administer it, since I was working from home at the time. So I haven’t actually seen what the math content on the PSAT looks like since I took the PSAT, sometime in the early fuckin’ nineties. And here’s the thing: advancing your skills in reading and writing doesn’t really work the same way as it does in math. A talented 8th grader can handle a reading or language test pitched at 9th graders, because reading is still the same thing, and there really aren’t any actually novel skills taught after, like, the middle of grade school or so. Math? Math doesn’t work like that. The PSAT is basically an Algebra 1 test, and if you’re not in Algebra 1, the notation alone is going to make the thing entirely incomprehensible. Like, my kids have never seen f(x) in any capacity, and that renders even something like f(x) = X + 6 when X is 10 somewhat incomprehensible. Some of them will figure out (or, probably more accurately, correctly guess) that they can just add 10 and 6 and get 16, but the majority of them are going to look at the function notation and just fall apart, and a whole lot of the questions used function notation some way or another. There were two math tests on the PSAT, one that was meant to be done without calculators and lasted twenty minutes, and another that allowed calculators (which weren’t going to do most of my kids a bit of good) and lasted 40. I glanced through an extra copy of the test booklet (true to expectations, attendance was miserable) and found maybe three questions on the first test I thought my kids might be able to do, and perhaps 50% of the questions on the second test were possible, or at least would be by the end of the year– second- or third-quarter material, for example.

I’m not writing this to complain about the test, mind you; it’s just not going to be as useful to evaluate where an 8th grader is mathematically than it will be to evaluate where they are as readers. I’m writing this because, as a math teacher, I spent the entire test ignoring pointed glares from at least three or four students– not because they were actually mad at me, but because they decided it was funny to blame me for the math on the test being hard and a couple of them just decided they were going to spend an hour staring at me– because it’s not like they actually thought I was responsible for the questions on the Goddamned thing. I just kept telling them not to panic and didn’t worry about it’ it’s nice, for once, to have them taking something that isn’t used to evaluate me or my school in any way. All the pressure to do well was on the people actually taking the test!

Crazy, innit?

The little teacher that probably could, he thinks, maybe

I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can

Literally all I have to do tomorrow is administer the PSAT and be present for (not even really “teach,” it’s the last day of the quarter on a day when I don’t see either of my other classes; no one is expecting pedagogical brilliance here) one single class, on a day before a five-day break where the kids know they’re going to be expected to take a four-hour test and thus will probably just stay home— I bet attendance tomorrow sucks. And then I have a teacher record day where I already have most of my grading for it done, then a four-day break. I can do this. If I didn’t kill anybody today I can make it through a standardized test with my homeroom on a day where I don’t have to see 3rd and 4th hour. Surely.

Yes. Surely.

An actual conversation that happened today

“Mr. Siler, I’m lonely. I need love.”

“I love all my students.”

“No, I mean physical love.”

“…I cannot help you with that. Go to class, please.”

In which no, you cannot

I discovered earlier today that this had happened– read the first couple of paragraphs if you don’t immediately see why I’m linking to it. The lady who wrote it sent me a very nice email about it, which I think deserves a response, if only to point out that I haven’t thrown myself down a hole or anything since I wrote that post. I was fascinated enough by it that I actually outed myself to the rest of the math team this afternoon so that I could share the article with them, so if any of my co-workers abruptly stop talking to me in the next few days I guess I know why.

I’m not quite sure what the hell happened today. My observing student taught his first lesson today, to my first and second hour, who were absolutely perfect for him, a feat that led to me spending $20 on candy this afternoon on the way home, and I intend to distribute every single piece tomorrow. Then third and fourth hours showed their asses in a big way; I had to put three kids out, and then the class period ended abruptly when the entire 8th grade got called downstairs for a meeting on no notice at all.

Oh, and Hosea asked four different girls to either be his girlfriend or to let him kiss them today, so I had to deal with that. One of them brought me a note he had written her. Check this out:

She has declined his offer to be her pudding.

I am not currently aware of whether the same poem was also used for the other girls, or whether those requests were in person.

God, I need tomorrow to be quiet.