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After 21 years of my ears hearing and my mind responding to, “Christine,” I decided to mix it up…Ms. Derbins is no longer a name reserved for my mother.  I am Ms. Derbins.  Week one (of three) for Duke TIP term two came to a close today.  And what a different week one it has been (compared to that of last term).  Not making a judgment call on better or worse, just go with me as I label it ‘different.’ Let’s not get carried away with connotations.

I am helping teach Mobius Strips, Klein Bottles and Fractals: The Mathematics of Distortion (basically topology) with Liz Munch, a PhD. student at Duke.  Before the students came, Liz and I decided to go by Ms. Munch and Ms. Derbins.  Why? Two reasons: 1) to help establish respect in the classroom and 2) to make the students more comfortable.  At first glance, those reasons may seem to contradict each other, but in reality I have seen that they go hand-in-hand at TIP.  Giving people rules at first makes them tense up and feel uncomfortable…but you must ask yourself, are these people your ‘equals’ or are they looking to you as an authority figure?  You wouldn’t tell your friends to call you Ms./Mr. or have them ask permission to go to the restroom.  But, you should tell kids that you are teaching to do these things.  This is one lesson I have already learned from this term, because last term I said, “Sure, call me Christine!” Then for this term, I remembered that these are indeed kids (jealous!), and it is not only my job to teach them math, but to make them comfortable.  They are more comfortable when given rules in a classroom.  Put yourself in their position and it makes sense!  I realized that they felt weird calling me Christine, leading to half of them never calling for my help, etc.  All that being said, I am Ms. Derbins, and I absolutely love the effect.  I have such a great relationship with these kids already, and I love interacting with them, watching and helping them learn new things! Also, I don’t half mind being called by my mom’s name – she’s a fantastic woman anyways! Very excited to report (after three years of being named Substitute of the Year) she is an official employee at Mandeville High 🙂 as the Distance Learning Coordinator.

Mom, me and my grandmother at the College of Science awards

I’m also in a very different classroom this term.  We have blinds that raise and lower automatically, endless whiteboards, a working projector, individual desks and doc cam…lots of things that help us to do more! Last term I had chalk, non functional blinds, no projector and long tables. It’s really interesting how the physical dynamics of a classroom can go toward impacting learning.

Our schedules are the same as term one, but this time that 4-5 period has actually served as – dare I say it – a semi-break!  I have been able to leave the classroom and either do weights or study for the  GRE.  Still work, but not the same that I do all day.  That one hour may as well be gold.

And yes, Thursdays still mean froyo.

We turn TIP exhaustion into happiness at the expense of frozen yogurt.

We went to Menchies this week, so I felt a little closer to home since that’s the place at which I was introduced to this greatness.  I should mention though that the drive was about 10 miles, and this has been typical for froyo ventures.  There are 4 within walking distance from my apartment at LSU!  Duke students, where are your priorities?

Speaking of home – I’m coming soon! …home being the land of loving parents, missed friendships, bike routes, tigers and so much more.  Oh, and the K-9 friends in my life…miss you, too.

I will miss the berries we get in the dining hall though.  They. Had. Raspberries. Last week.  But only for one day!  I think I took too many, and they realized their costs were about to rise exponentially…

Berries at breakfast!


John 11:35 tells us that Jesus will bring peace and comfort to us in whatever way we need it: crying with us, rejoicing with us, working out with us, leading us to friends, etc.  Think about what you put your identity in, and it’s likely that that is actually how Jesus is comforting you, and the root of your identity is/can be in Christ. I always knew running is how I found peace amongst chaos, in fact,  I used to put my identity in running…until I found my identity in Christ, and realized that I am not bringing peace to my life by running…rather, running is how Jesus brings peace to my life. He’s been doing it since day one, it just took a while for me to realize the connection.

What defines you?