My teaching philosophy revolves around being able to use math as a tool for problem-solving; helping students to be able to think through problems and persevere and look for different ways to approach things. To me, a perfect teaching situation would look like an environment that’s student-driven, where inquiry is the backbone of all the instruction, where students have agency in discovering mathematical principles instead of merely consuming them, and where concepts in class connect with problems that students want or will need to solve in their lives. My role as a teacher is as a facilitator and as a questioner who gets students to think more deeply about their own ideas and hypotheses.
Students should be able to understand the rules and principles of mathematics, and use them to think through problems. Students should obtain a perseverance in confronting challenges, and the habit of looking at situations systematically in order to determine what needs to be done and how to get there. Students should be able to apply mathematical processes to a variety of situations, and synthesize new concepts with things that they have previously learned in order to solve complex problems. I use a variety of methods to reach these goals and objectives. My students participate in some lectures and note-taking environments but also group work and high cognitive demand problems. My teaching methods find a balance between routine and keeping students on their toes. My students have some consistency in how they begin and end their day, and there is a routine in the ways that they are expected to interact with me and each other during any class activities. But there’s variety in the ways that activities are structured in order to keep students on their toes and to accommodate a wide variety of learning styles and preferences.
I believe that every student deserves my attention. An observer would see me interact with students warmly, and do a lot of listening to what they think of my class, the school, their lives, and the activities that they participate in. My approach to almost everything in the classroom is based on student needs and the ways in which I can work with students, not against them in my instruction. I am a teacher-researcher on topics of students resistance, and actively search for ways to engage the ways in which students resist in my class to make the learning experience better for everyone and to improve myself as a teacher.
Assessment of growth, effort, inquiry, and problem-solving are far more beneficial to students than assessment of achievement alone. I grade students on a criterion scale, not a curve, because I believe that all students can be successful in my class regardless of whether they are “more” or “less” successful than any of their peers. I prefer project-based assessments, and tests and worksheets than are designed to be done collaboratively.
I have goals to become a teacher who is consistently improving in her practice; I don’t believe that I will ever be done learning or be good enough. I actively seek out opportunities for professional development both in person and using resources like webinars or courses on the internet. I am a voracious reader of books by practitioning teachers. I believe that qualities of good teachers are also qualities of good leaders and vice versa, and thus consider leadership development to be a crucial and helpful aspect of my development as a teacher. With this in mind, I also read and take other opportunities to improve myself as a leader and have ambitions to pursue advanced degrees in administration as well as organizational leadership. Finally, a key part of professional growth is reflection upon my teaching practice. I am continually reflecting, documenting, and thinking out loud to determine what goes well in any given lesson and what methods I could change or resources I could access to improve my teaching in the day-to-day.