Teaching mathematics has always been my passion. Though my students question the validity of this memory, as a seven-year-old I wrote math tests for my stuffed animals, took these tests and then proceeded to grade each individually. I was lucky to be raised in a household with math-confident parents and educated at a school that had a progressive approach to math education. As students, we were praised for creativity and question-asking. Math was an adventure - exhilarating and liberating. Only in math class did I feel that my ideas were as worthy as those of my teacher or textbook. When I reached high school, I discovered that math class wasn’t always a place for questions. I have a distinct memory of being told that my strategy for solving a specific problem was not the one that my teacher had intended (despite the correctness of the solution) and was therefore wrong. I found classmates that hated math. I learned that being “good at math” was something that set me apart. That I chose to take math electives, that I competed, and did well, in national math competitions - these were all distinctions that formed my identity as a “math person”. It wasn’t until I became a teacher, a year after college, that I questioned what that identity meant. As a teacher, it is tempting to categorize our students into two buckets: those who are math-inclined and those who are not. By doing this, we avoid having to reflect on what actually might be causing a student to struggle in the classroom: our own definition and presentation of what math is. I believe that we teach mathematics in the classroom, that it is a national requirement, not because we have decided that all successful adults must be able to determine the interior angles of a pentagon, but because we believe all adults must solve problems. It is only in math class that we are given time to explore our skills as hypothesizers, estimators, and abstract-thinkers. Too often, mathematics is presented as a subject that has concluded, that has been solved, and that only needs to be regurgitated by its pupils. For the lucky few that are at the forefront of mathematics, that have survived their secondary educations and thrived in the higher levels of academia, they are well aware of how very capricious mathematics can be. But what about those who will never sit in a graduate-level mathematics seminar? If we believe that winning the Nobel peace prize in mathematics (though it doesn’t exist!) is the ultimate goal for every algebra student, we’ve misunderstood what the importance of mathematics actually is. As a math teacher, my greatest responsibility to my students is imparting an enthusiasm and a resilience for problem-solving. Mathematics is a practice of communication, of collaboration, and creativity. Though I have loved my time as a classroom teacher, I am eager to be a part of the community developing resources that inspire students to love mathematics. My goal is to have a greater impact on students by helping to prepare their teachers. One of my strengths as an educator, besides my unbridled enthusiasm for mathematics, is my ability to find a multitude of ways to communicate ideas. I am creative and able to help others visualize complex ideas. I love developing classroom experiences that are engaging, relevant, and responsive to learners. My love of math is what made me a teacher, and it is my love of education that is encouraging me to pursue the world of curriculum development.
personal philosophy on math education
My philosophy on education is evolving. I learn more about teaching and myself with every new student and classroom. Having said that, my vision of what makes a good math class is routed in my understanding of how student’s learn. Central to this understanding are the following beliefs: ● Learning can not occur in a vacuum. Learning must be routed within the context of a student’s current understanding. In order for learning to last, it must be embedded in the greater network of a student’s knowledge. ●. Learning can be thought of as the process of extending a student’s base of knowledge. Learning happens just at the edge of what a student understands - enabling them to grow their understanding to include new ideas. ●. Learning is an active process for students. Students must engage and own their thinking in order to allow for learning. Actions of student learning include, but are not limited to; questioning, creating, processing, collaborating, performing, and teaching. ● Learning can only occur when students feel confident, safe, and empowered. Guided by the beliefs listed above, my approach to teaching mathematics revolves around a student’s ability to access and engage with content. As I think about each new learning objective, I consider how it expands upon a current understanding. Enabling a student to access their prior-knowledge not only makes new concepts relevant, but also encourages students to feel confident as they absorb and make room for a new idea. If learning is to truly expand upon a student’s current world-view, it must challenge and engage with the current context of a student’s understanding. For this to happen, students must be given the opportunity to own their thinking, voicing the preconceptions and questions that are generated through being exposed to new ideas. Active learning occurs when students are given the opportunity to think. This can be achieved through a variety of ways and should be central to any lesson plan. Offering students the opportunity to share their thinking, with themselves, one another and with the entire class, is an important element of any successful classroom. Student ideas should drive conversation. Whether this is during a class discussion about a given math concept or whether students are working in groups or individually, students should feel that their approach and process is what is valued. Achieving a correct solution is indicative of learning, however, it is not the only way we should assess true understanding. Through activities and discussions that highlite student thought, teachers should have plenty of evidence to track the learning process. Lastly, the relationship between student and teacher is a pivotal piece of a successful learning environment. If we are asking students to stretch their understanding, we must acknowledge that we are asking them to take a risk. Learning is challenging as it demands students to actively question and expand upon what they are comfortable with. In order for students to do this, they must trust that they are being supported. Building this trust precludes any innovative teaching move or strategy that could be implemented in the classroom and must be at the forefront of a teacher’s mind.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Graduated from the Learning and Teaching, Instructional Leadership track at Harvard's Graduate School of Education in 2020. Focused on learning through play and creativity. Studied under Karen Brennan, Tina Grotzer, Jon Star and Joe Blatt.
Harvard Extension School
Graduate of the Mathematics for Teaching program through Harvard Extension School. Focused on Learning and Design technology and Math Teacher Leadership.
Majored in History with a "Minor" in Architecture. Research grant awarded for senior thesis project on Freed Black Education in South Carolina during the Civil War.