Homewood High School math teacher Tim Hurry sets the rules
WORLD / U.S. – High school math teacher Tim Hurry has got it all planned out, and his students better be prepared.
This, however, isn’t a typical class. The students are part of the school’s Math team and its members represent the school at tournaments throughout the year. First seen on Scribd by Alex McDaniel, Tim Hurry’s guidelines for his Math class put a smile on our faces, and probably some groans from students whom had other plans. His opening paragraph starts off mater-of-factly:
“This is a very advanced class and will be extremely fast paced in content yet relaxed in atmosphere. If you do all that I ask & require you will easily be the top Algebra II/Trig students in the school and possibly the state by year’s end.”
Words from an assured teacher, indeed. His demands and expectations set the bar for the students in his class.
Curriculum tweaks based on 18 years of experience
We contacted Tim Hurry – whose now-viral curriculum is meant for the Homewood High School Math Team – about the curriculum. “I created the curriculum for our Algebra II math team class in 1996 and have continued to add/tweak it since then.”
That is 18 years of invaluable experience working with students and 21 years in the teaching profession. However, working out the best way to get through to the team has always been an on-going improvement. “As the curriculum grows with depth and rigor I learn more efficient ways to communicate the material to our students so one class won’t feel like they are being worked harder than the prior.””
The students and their parents are expected to read the syllabus and sign off on it to indicate they have understood the commitment required. But what made Hurry decide to create a different curriculum? “Well, what began as a syllabus with a few class rules has evolved over the years. Do you know how boring it is to read a typical syllabus from each of your child’s 6-7 classes and sign off on them the first day of school? I do, and it is painful after a long day. Lord help you if you’ve got more than 1 child,” Hurry wrote in our email correspondence.
“So 20 or so years ago, even before having children myself, I started injecting some humor (perhaps some weak attempts) into my document to keep the parents interested. Most of the jokes and recommendations have a story behind them, but the hope is they will understand my expectations without me sounding like a tyrant. Nearly all of it is intended to convey meaning, yet most of it is written tongue-in-cheek. When we talk about it the first day, they get to know me and quickly see when I’m serious and when I’m not. Also, it was in NO way a commentary on today’s youth, at least not the ones I teach.”
Homework every night
A look through at part of the curriculum indicates the committed partnership every student must vest interest in. This includes homework everyday. “Expect homework to be given every night. How often? EVERY NIGHT. Are you sure you are coming to grips with this? . EVERY NIGHT. If you are the type of student who, in the past, has said, I don’t do homework,” then please change your habits immediately or you will get hammered.”
But Hurry isn’t the teacher who insists he’s always right. In his curriculum, he stated “if you feel like I’ve made a mistake in iNOW entering in your homework grade, please ask. I’m pretty accurate, but I’ve made mistakes before and I probably won’t know unless you bring it to my attention.”
He repeats this again in the document, with a little humour. “I have been wrong many times before and I will be wrong many times again – just ask my wife and kids. However, if you do not agree with any of my methods or think that I am treating you unfairly, PLEASE give me the courtesy of coming to talk with me in private after class or after school.”
Missing class tests is not an option
“I take it personally when you miss my tests . I will reward you with a different test that will not necessarily be harder, but rather less easy (there is a difference). I strongly encourage you to be here on test days. Tests may be cumulative over the entire year’s material, with at least an 80% focus on the current chapter. You can’t afford to miss days in this class – schedule doctor/dentist visits accordingly for your sake. I will not reteach a lesson for you just because you missed the class. I will help you understand concepts which are confusing to you, but only after you have made an effort to learn the material on your own (get notes from a friend, read the chapter, work the homework problems to the best of your ability). Bottom line – do everything in your power to be here! If you miss the review day and new material is NOT covered then EXPECT TO TAKE THE TEST!!!”
While it may sound harsh to some, re-teaching a lesson or scheduling re-tests takes up a teacher’s time that can be better spent on supplementary exercises, advanced learning plans, and other activity that will benefit the class as a whole.
Rave review by students at Homewood
Reviews of Tim Hurry (assumed from his past students) on ratemyteacher indicates positive experiences. “Not sure what some of these people are thinking. Mr. Hurry cares more about his students than any teacher I’ve had. He’s hard but fair. Also, he comes early, stays late, and he knows his stuff.” Another comment stated “Tough but good. Loves his students but won’t spoon-feed them. Willing to stay late and help us when we need it. Really knows his subject matter well.”
For students interested in joining the Math team, they would already have a keen interest in the subject. Hurry adds, “My students are great, year in and year out. Also, in addition to this document, I assign my students a paper to write about themselves to give them a chance to let me know who they are. I write them a paper about myself, as well, to give them a head start on knowing me. All of this gives them a good idea about who I am, what I expect, and what my hopes are for them during the year. I try to be very fair to all my students, and this document “covers me” should issues arise about grading, homework, math tournament attendance, etc.”
“Honestly, it (this curriculum) has never been a big deal before this year. Some of students mention they thought it was funny. Because we have the parents sign them acknowledging they understand the expectations, many of the parents have told me “Thank you!” for injecting humor into what is normally a boring document.”
Why Tim Hurry chose to be a teacher
Hurry also stated in the curriculum that he chose to be a teacher. “I was not relegated this position as I might have been in some socialist / communist society and I did not become a teacher because I couldn’t get a job anywhere else.”
Our big question – why did Tim Hurry choose to be an educator?
“The easiest subject for me to master has always been math, but my path to becoming a math teacher was a bit of an unusual story. I had just graduated with a business degree in finance and I was actually in the MBA program, Fall of ’91 at Auburn when a friend of mine accidentally kicked me in the face while doing a round-off into a back handspring. Nothing ninja-like, just an accident,” said Hurry.
“Anyway, it took 3-4 weeks and a significant nose surgery to get it all back in the right place and by the time I was able to attend class my professors advised me to drop my classes and re-enroll for the winter quarter. During those 2 months I did a great deal of soul searching and self-examination and realized I really didn’t wanted to be in the business world and really wanted to be involved with kids. Two years, and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Math Education later, I began working here at Homewood High School. Haven’t looked back.”