Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 Student Letters

Once again I had my students write me letters at the end of the year. I give them some basic ideas, but they are free to write whatever they want. And they do. In effort to keep the integrity of the letters I have tried to leave spelling and grammar mistakes, so you can read them as they were written. In no particular order here are excerpts from the letters:

This year being in your class was actually kind of fun even though we had to do ton’s of homework. But I kind of got used to it even though I don’t do it that often.

Omg, you don’t even no how much I’m going to miss this class. TBH (which mean (to be honest) you were my best teacher this year. like NJ (which means no joke). The part about this class was when you tell us funny stories. I be 2 weak. But ya.... This class was a great experience for me and will help me for my future. So thank you so much 4 everything you’ve done and taught me.

One girl just made a key for me at the bottom of her letter.

JK = Just kidding
Lol = laugh out loud

Really? Give me some credit. TBH and NJ might be a little tough, but I think I'm good on JK and lol.

Have a nice summer, haha. You get it? Because I’m summer. Lol. But have a nice summer. P.S. your my favorite math teacher.

I had a good time in this class (even though I was not there most of the time) it was nice. Did I tell you about a ride back in North Carolina? It is call the Intemedator it is huge. Well, I hope I might be back next year.

This came at the bottom of a letter from a girl in my 6th period:

p.s. you look good in black it brings out your eyes

This was a different girl in the same class:

p.s. you look good in black.

Let me check their last exam and see if they were copying.

This class was ok. I didn’t have much 8th grade friends in this class but it’s cool. I learned how to use fractions a lot better thanks to you. your lessons always make sense. But I want a cool job. I want to be dJ. That would be the sickest job ever. Party all day. If I ever become world famous you would be welcome to my concerts and stuff.
p.s. If I become world famous this paper will be your pass

I liked this class better than Mrs. Nickles because you don’t give that much homework even tho I don’t do homework. Well last week I started a crew, the S.S.C, which stands for see-saw crew because every morning we would go to the park and play on the see-saw. That’s all I’m going to say.

Mr. B you are my current favorite math teacher this year.

Even though some of us did not pass your class (cough) you did teach us a couple things about life, and you did make it fun.

I finally know how to graph thanks to you! Mr. Kerze was weird and also a good teacher but you were better and at teaching us stuff; easier. Btw you should show this to him. J but yea I really liked how you would be teaching us math, then all of the sudden it would be like BAM! Story time! You should’ve brought your wife more often to class thoe. She was nice and helped me on my equations. And my mom thinks your adorable! BYE!

Even though I was a pain for you, you still liked me as a great and intelligent student.

One thing I will say I learned from this class is to never be late and bring in food.

One day one of her classmates showed up about 30 minutes late to first period carrying a bag from McDonalds. I kinda went off. I guess she remembered that.

Anyways you get distracted easily by one second the class is doing math and the next thing you know you talking about your crazy ex or some prisoners.

Your favorite thing is that you want your kids to do good in life. That is one thing I admire about you.

Almost all of my teachers I have had have been funny but you take funny to whole new level because you can use humor that we can relate to for our age.

When you teach us math you make it fun to learn and you do things to some of your students like yelling at them or throwing something at them so you can make them pay attention or whatever but it makes everybody laugh and have a good time.

Once I started your class I noticed you that you explained lessons the easiest way possible which made it a lot easier.

I don’t really remember what I learned this year, but I learned a lot.

You are the best math teacher and a good person. Your story’s are the best. I learned a lot from you and not just math, I learned how to try hard and never give up. I hope you have a great life, and I see you again sometime.

The funnest assignment you had us do this year was when you multiply an exponent by an exponent.

I totally understand. Sometimes my friends and I just get together to multiply exponents. Personally, I love X3 to the fifth power. I could do that one all day. 

I learned a lot during this year. I have gained a lot of experience in Algebra. The experience I have gained will be with me for the rest of my life. Unless I get a serious bad case of amnesia or get hit in the head by a frying pan.

Hola Mr. Burrill,
Es un buen maestro aprendier much te usted, usted abbesses es chistoso con la clase porque nos cuenta historia perosnales de su vida. Ami me gusto la marieria que usted tien para que los ninos aprendan facil.

I understand my greades sliped in the last month but that is becaus I wasent handaling my time wisely. I realiy hope I improve on that, (along with spelling and my shyness).

You’re the funniest teacher I ever had. I have learned so much about math this year, that’s why I love math! Ever since I was in elementary school I hated math. I didn’t care about it or I just hated it. Once I got into your class, I started to like math.

Why do you yell at random times?

You motivated me to push harder and further, not just in school, math, but in life. Thank you for a great, funny, and educational year that helped me get back on my feet.

I even have respect for you, because you believe in your students. Even though we act like immature idiots. You still believe we can go somewhere in life.

In the first of the year I didn’t like you much but now your like my 2nd or 3rd favorite teacher.

You’re the best teacher in the world. I learn to much and that’s why I didn’t want to do anything. But you were the best teacher I could have.

I’d like to start my letter off by saying thank you. Thank you for being our teacher and my favorite while doing it. I loved every minute of every lesson that we learned. Especially the 10-star notes, and your funny stories. I can’t wait to see you next year!

I’ve learned so much in you’re class, just never remembered any of it, that’ why I didn’t do my homework all year.

My favorite part of the class are the posters, they are so inspirational and I wish all my teachers had posters like yours.

Finally I had a kid notice the posters. (They are great posters.)

Ever since the beginning of this year I would say math is my favorite subject now. Even though you have been a big asshole you still are my favorite teacher of all the teachers here. I know I’ve given you hard times before because of talking and I’m really sorry for that. My favorite part of my day is coming to 4th period ready to learn and have fun. I really love math now because of you. Have a very nice summer with Stephanie and the kids.

At the beginning of the year you were kind of a dick. But as I learned about it, you do it to help us. I had a lot of fun in your class and I hope to be in it next year.


Even thou you have been mean several times but it’s all right that’s the way you have to be against us.

The truth is that I liked your class very much besides the fact that you sent me out about 5 times.
Thanks for being so hard on me.

I think in future years you should let your classes have more fun. More comedian stuff (the computer not you) cause I didn’t understand any of your jokes.

I’d personally like to be as funny and witty as you are when I’m your age. And my favorite part of this class has been your Mitch Hedberg sketches.

In the beginning of the year I was really shy and didn’t participate very much. After we had that talk I started to have more confidence to participate.

You explain things very well and math is now my 2nd favorite subject. My first is band, of course. But after band me and Katherine talk about what we will be learning today and tomorrow every single day. 

When I first came to your class at the beginning of the year I thought you were a dick. And when the year started to go by I still thought you were a dick, but then I started to understand where you were coming from and why you were a dick. So I guess you can say you were a pretty cool/funny teacher and I had an OK year in this class.

I guess you can say you sure learned how to give a compliment. 

I thank you for making the concepts understandable and allowing me to figure things out because it makes that “ah-ha” moment better.

My favorite pare of the class is the beginning of the year when Miss S. was here.

I’ll miss walking in here every day and hoping that we’d use the white boards.

You are by far one of the best teachers I have ever had. You make learning fun for me. You are the reason I look forward to coming to school.

One kid even wrote a poem for me:

Mr. Burrill is tight
He never got in a fight
He only comes out at night
To fly a kite and get some chicken mc bites

I always hated math. It was one of my weak points. But you were always there trying to help me. Teaching me, and letting me learn about you. I wasn’t just learning math but also about you. You make me happy when you tell stories. Even though my life is really shitty you give me hope. My best friend is dying and I feel like I’ll die too if she leaves. But you give me hope. Hope that she will be okay. All this hope comes from hearing your stories and for that I thank you. Thank you Mr. Burrill for all you have done for all of us in this class.

Wow. I had no idea.

Thank you so much for taking in this class! If I would have stayed with a long term sub I would have failed. I’ve learned so much from you and not just math. I’ve learned some life lessons as well. I’m going to miss being in this class. I also wanted to thank you for encouraging me to write, because before I was terrified to go up in front of the class. Thank you for being the kind, understanding, fun teacher you are!

I told the kids one day that I hoped at the end of the year they could say that their life was a little better off because for one hour a day for one year they were in my class. And they should strive to be the type of people that others want to be around. 

Thank you for dedicating so much of your time to all of your students. You are such a great teacher. Not because of what I learned, but how I learned. I was amazed how you could put so much of your personality into math. You made class fun. And that made all the difference. My life is a little better off now that I’ve been in your class one hour everyday for 5 days a week.

If I could go back in time and re-live this year in your class I wouldn’t change a thing. You always made my day, even when it was a horrible day. I just want to thank you for all you’ve done and for believing in me.

And thank you too. You were a joy to have in class.

Just for the record I did teach math I didn't just tell kids stories the whole day, but I guess I can see what they remember. So nice to hear from the kids when they really did learn and grow and can express it such a wonderful and beautiful way. Sometimes I need these letters to keep me going.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Last AVID Class

It has been over 30 years since the first AVID class began in San Diego California. Now it is a huge program all over the country and international as well. I had the opportunity to start AVID at Einstein Middle School and be the coordinator and teacher for the last several years. I just finished my last year with program. At the end of each year I have my kids write me a letter telling me anything they would like to say. Here are some excerpts from my AVID students of 2013-2014:

I really can’t thank you enough because I don’t think I would have made into West Campus without all the practice you gave me and the other kids with writing. To be honest, I thought I wasn’t going to be cool with anybody in the class until TRF groups came and everybody started to get to know each other. Before I joined AVID, I thought college was way out of my range and that once you got in you’ll be stressed the hell out all the time. I thought that the only way for me to go college is through athletics, but no, you made me believe that sports is not the only thing on my side. I can make it in academics and I will do good in college because you trained to go into college prepared. Thanks for all your stories and knowledge!

Thanks for teaching me about ELA and mathematics because those were my worst areas. I think I will do better in high school and college because of you.

I just want to thank you! Thank you for not letting me regret choosing AVID as my elective. You have inspired me to actually think about what I want to do in college. Thank you for telling me that school is a game and you have to play it RIGHT! Thank you for the field trip and parties. Now you can remember me and Abrea for teaching you the nae nae. Mr. Burrill you’re the funniest teacher EVER! But overall, you made my last year at Einstein the best. Oh, and thank you for all those perseverance movies. I learned a lot from those. It taught me to never give up on something your really want to do.
This was one of the bet classes I had in my life. I never thought that AVID would help me and be so fun. One thing I learned is that college is very important.

I learned that I need to be more assertive as I express myself. You are one of the most funniest teachers I had so far. You’re not afraid to speak your mind and that’s what I admire about you. I also learned a lot of life lessons from you that could help me as I get older. I like how you sometimes get off topic because you want to tell us your experience on certain things. You try to help all your students from now to sometimes high school. It’s fun that I had you for two periods because it is cool how you treat your kids.

I’m really glad I chose AVID for my 8th grade elective, although I’m disappointed that it’s the last year here at Einstein. You’re a great teacher especially when teaching AVID. Throughout the school year you have helped us realize many things like: not caring what other think of us, having integrity, not always being passive. I think it’s cool how you can tell us a story and turn it into a lesson. Hopefully you and Stephanie last long, and hopefully you won’t get so bothered about her shoes everywhere.

I hope AVID comes back in the future because this program is very helpful and fun… We’ve had lots of laughs and serious moments. You taught me how to use perseverance and follow my ambitions.
In the beginning of the year, I didn’t even know what a thesis was, or what a topic sentence is. Now I know what both of them are and more. I know a lot more thins, and I want to thank you, because you’ve made me open my eyes and realize that I needed to get my priorities straight.

You inspired me and are one of the people who actually is keeping me a live because you showed me that there are people who care. Crazy right? Ha.

Most of the time in classes you can be mean at some times, but that taught me that not everyone you meet is going to be nice.

I wish I had a few more days to spend at school so our class could have more fun together.

You taught me a whole lot about life and how to succeed and I really truly want to thank you for that. Your cold hard truths you did with us really impacted my life. The best part about class was our stories. You told us a lot of superfluous information but oh boy it was funny.

I am very sad that Einstein AVID is coming to an end. AVID was really fun this year. I learned how to write a lot better! I am going to miss this class. I’m glad that we are the last AVID class at Einstein because we were obviously the best class ever! Listening to your stories about your crazy ex-girlfriends were the best part of this class. Next year I will come back and say hello. I really liked the cold hard truths when we actually did them. I learned a lot from those… Don’t forget about the best AVID class you have ever had!

I won't.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No Ice Cube Trays

We currently have no fridge in the house, and are just using one in the garage until the new one comes. This is the approximate phone conversation I had with Steph when she called me after work:

Me: Hi babe

Steph: Hi

Me: You sound well. Did the meeting go well?

Steph: Yes.

Me: Hey, do we have an ice cube trays?

Steph: Yeah.

Me: Where would they be?

Steph: What?

Me: Where are they?

Steph: Where are who?

Me: The ice cube trays

Steph: What?


Steph: We don’t have any ice cube trays.

(Then I just start laughing.)

Me: I’m just curious. How did this conversation begin for you?

Me: What did you think I said when I asked you if we had ice cube trays and you responded yes?

Steph: Sometimes I can’t hear you well, and I just guess what you say.

Me: What was your guess when I said, “Do we have any ice cube trays?”

Steph: I don’t know. I thought you were just saying something about the meeting.

Me: Do you see how that made this conversation confusing for me?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Advice List for my Students

A while back I saw on-line a girl post an advice list from one of her teacher's at the end of her senior year of high school. I thought his list was excellent advice, and I thought it was a cool idea. So I decided to create a list for my students.

Tips for Life
From Mr. Burrill 2014

  1. Learn to like yourself.
  2. Learn how to estimate tax and tip. Tip well for good service.
  3. When you’re at a restaurant with your friends sharing a bill throw in one dollar more than you actually owe.
  4. Don’t ask for gas money if you drive, but offer to pitch in when you don’t.
  5. Tell the truth.
  6. Don’t neglect to work on your weaknesses, but put even more effort into mastering your strengths.
  7. Have hobbies that don’t involve technology.
  8. Learn how to spell, speak, and write properly. (Even if you choose to ignore it when messaging your friends)
  9. Speak to your teachers properly, because in order to speak well you will have to practice it sometimes.
  10. Stand up for yourself.
  11. Admit when you’re wrong.
  12. Don’t ever say, “But they were doing it too.”
  13. Ask yourself, “What can I do to improve this situation?” not “Why does this stuff keep happening to me?”
  14. Dance sometimes, even if you have no rhythm.
  15. Ask questions in class.
  16. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  17. Learn from your mistakes, and learn from the mistakes of others.
  18. Maintain your integrity.
  19. Be honest. Be forthright.
  20. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  21. Learn to give compliments.
  22. Take small steps when trying to reach big goals.
  23. If something is hard for you, a small goal may be a big goal and that’s okay.
  24. Find a mentor or a couple good role models to be a part of your life.
  25. Have high standards for your role models.
  26. When you’re with new friends, don’t just talk about old friends.
  27. Don’t pose for or post incriminating pictures of yourself.
  28. Don’t use social media for arguments.
  29. If you have the right of way, take it.
  30. If all of your friends and family dislike your significant other you may need to examine your relationship.
  31. Stand up to bullies.
  32. Pick up your trash.
  33. Put your phone away when having conversations with people in the same room as you.
  34. You can’t change other people, but you can change how you react.
  35. You are what you do, not what you say.
  36. Confidence attracts.
  37. Take electives you enjoy.
  38. All adults have to have a job. Some adults like their jobs. This is an obtainable goal.
  39. Learn to budget so you don’t have to “wait ‘till Friday” to buy what you need.
  40. Be a lifelong learner. Never try to stop improving yourself.
  41. If someone uses a word that you don’t know make a note of it and try to learn the word.
  42. If you want to remember the meaning of a new word force yourself to use it in a conversation.
  43. Go to college.
  44. Be assertive.
  45. If you want to go to the party -“to” has one o, but if the party is too crazy, too boring or your brother wants to go too - “too” has two o’s.
  46. Have at least one nice outfit.
  47. Be able to hold a meaningful, intentional conversation with someone of any age.
  48. Be able to formulate an argument.
  49. Formulate your argument before you speak.
  50. Limit your on-line life.
  51. It’s okay to be right without getting everyone to admit that you’re right.
  52. If somebody criticizes you, at some point that day objectively reflect on what was said. Is it something you want to work on?
  53. Prioritize the important over the urgent.
  54. Make good friends. Be intentional about maintaining the relationships.
  55. Exercise regularly.
  56. Drink water.
  57. Life isn’t fair, but it is your responsibility to still do the best you can.
  58. Learn to forgive people.
  59. Don’t let small things negatively affect you in a big way.
  60. Fake it ‘till you make it. Force yourself to practice it even if it is uncomfortable at first, because if you do it enough, you will get there.
  61. There are other people in this world. Act like it. Learn to have consideration for others.
  62. Have respect for authority.
  63. Join clubs or sports teams.
  64. Surround yourself by people that are going to lift you up, not bring you down. Choose friends that are a good influence.
  65. Add a parent or teacher or other adults to your Facebook that will force you to be careful about what you post.
  66. It takes three weeks to make or break a habit. Be intentional about breaking bad habits and forming good habits.
  67. Make decisions based on how they will affect you long-term, not short-term.
  68. If you want to get into a university when you’re 18, start thinking about it when you’re 14. Consider things like your grades, scholarships, applications, grant money, and major tests.
  69. Take care of your body and physical appearance, but do not hold yourself to the standard of a supermodel.
  70. Don’t make excuses; take responsibility for your actions.
  71. Understand that change isn’t easy.
  72. Don’t go through all your struggles alone. There are people in your life willing to listen and help.
  73. Get to know your teachers/professors.
  74. If you can’t decide between two options pick the one you haven’t tried before.
  75. Be on time.
  76. Sometimes it might be worth it just for the story.
  77. Learn how to listen to a friend without trying to fix their problem. Often having someone to just listen is exactly what they need.
  78. Learn to live on less money than you make. Learn to not spend frivolously. It is okay to not have the most expensive new item.
  79. You will be surprised what you can get if you aren’t afraid to ask.
  80. Laugh.
  81. Prioritize your education.
  82. Persevere through the tough times. Don’t give up.
  83. Don't equate beauty with value.
  84. Be succinct.
  85. Find one thing to like about every person you meet.
  86. Find things to learn in every class you take, even the ones that aren't in your favorite areas of study.
  87. Ask other people about themselves.
  88. You are talented and can be successful.
  89. Compromise on things, but don't comprise on your values.

I wish you all the best – in high school and always!