When I first started college, I entered as a math major, with a minor in English. I loved math. I loved the fluidity of how numbers worked. I loved how numbers could make sense of things. However, when I took Calc III the first semester of my freshman year, I quickly stopped loving math so much. It moved to theoretical, and if I'm honest, it was just hard. I soon changed my focus to English, keeping only a minor in math.
I entered the teaching field, then, focusing on English. I've always loved literature, and I love the plethora of ways I can creatively teach it.
However, since I went to college in Michigan, I was able to receive credentials in both my major and my minor subjects. Therefore, when staffing changed at my school a few years ago, I was asked to begin teaching a math class as well.
At the time, I knew nothing about teaching math. However, I did know two really cool math teachers who both loved math, and more importantly, loved kids: John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey. At Back to School Night last night, I've realized just how much they've really impacted my math education philosophy. Here's what I've learned from watching their practice:
Math should be fun. Math gets a bad wrap for being drill and kill and a bland lecture format. Although my math class still has moments of lecture, you'll often hear sound effects or hand movements or crazy wording to help us remember things.
Math is more than a worksheet. I love teaching pre-algebra because so much of it is "real world" math. I've learned to look for how students might use our mathematical concepts in their world with their ideas. We do big projects and little projects and get our hands dirty as much as possible.
Mathematical excellence can occur with little to no homework. The more I talk with families, especially here in the Bay, I'm struck by the soul-killing and family-killing nature of math homework. We can practice skills in class a lot and have little to no homework every night. Turns out this creates a way more math-loving culture, too.
Math can be a team sport. When I think back to my math classes, it's amazing how much of math class was listen to the teacher, do a worksheet by yourself. There's so much beauty to me in students working together to solve a problem. I love the mathematical conversations I hear in my room every day.
The more time I spend processing the last several weeks of the beginning of the year, the more I realize that I am truly a math teacher. I'm not just a language arts teacher who teaches math anymore. I love watching my math students learn and create and work together and have fun. I love making crazy lessons for them that put our mathematical concepts to good use. I am a math teacher.