What are some of the key joys and challenges of being a math teacher?
I derive great joy from watching my students grow and become more competent, not just in mathematics but also as individuals. I also really love having stimulating conversations with coworkers who are interested in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Some of the challenges include the everyday struggle of figuring out what my students need to help them grow. The struggle is getting to know my students so well that I can understand what might be best for them, given the three or four times I see them a week, for 50 minutes each.
Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you’re most proud of this year.
This year, I am most proud of the ninth grade curriculum that I designed with a coworker for an algebra and geometry course. This year, we saw more growth in students than any previous year. I am happy that we have met our goal—which was to develop a deep understanding of the relationship between the two branches of mathematics as well as to help [students] develop as learners—and hope to continue to tweak it and improve it in the coming year.
Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
I think my greatest accomplishment was a paper I wrote on the development of ideas. It highlighted similarities throughout the process of idea development, regardless of the discipline. It gave rise to many offshoots, and these offshoots continue to shape and inform the way I think about teaching. In other words, I am most proud of the events that have helped me grow as a learner the most.
What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?
What keeps me motivated are the students, parents, coworkers, and administrators that support me and help me grow. Just interacting with [students] and helping to make them more capable, independent young people is the real reward. I also appreciate my membership in Math for America, which provides a community of highly qualified math teachers who come together to discuss pedagogy and mathematics.
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