Monday, September 8, 2014

The Meaning Behind the Numbers

It took me a long time before I realized I wanted to become a teacher. I should start out by saying I come from a whole family of teachers, and not just any teachers they are all math teachers. My grandparents are retired college math professors, my mom was also a college math professor and now  is teaching preschool in Ohio, and my dad is a 5th grade math teacher. So the oblivious choice for me to make would be to become a math teacher right? Wrong. Until last year I wanted to do everything but teach math. I wanted to go to med school, I wanted to be a psychiatrist, I wanted to be a biomedical engineer and design artificial organs and most recently I wanted to be an occupational therapist. After five major changes in two years I called my grandma and told her I had no idea what I wanted to major in and more importantly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. She gave me some of the best advice I have had to this day, she said "stop running from your calling". I knew that she meant my call to be a math teacher, she always said it was "in my blood". So long story short, listen to your grandma because she always knows what's best for you.

Once I did decided I wanted to be a teacher and found my passion in education I started thinking about what type of teacher I wanted to be and what I wanted to value in my classroom. Since I want to be a math teacher I knew that math absolutely had to be the highest priority in my class. Every teacher wants to change the lives of their students, they wants to make a difference. I knew, and still know, that I want to make a difference in my students lives through the math I teach. I want to make math approachable and realistic to my students. Everyone has heard (or maybe even been the one to say) "when will I use this?" in a math class. My goal as a teacher is to show my students how the math they are learning is important and that there is a reason why we are learning this. I want my students to see through projects and activities there is more to math that just numbers on a lined sheet of paper, or solving for some unknown, that math is about problem solving and reasoning.

In my classroom I want to use activities like "101 Questions" by Dan Meyer or "Would You Rather Math" to  engage my students. I don't want them to just give me an answer I want them to tell me how they got there and why they believe that is the right answer. I want my students to learn how to problem solve and collaborate. I want them to learn how to explain their thinking, and what to do if they are struggling with a problem. If my students do a problem incorrectly I want them to be able to go back to what they know and try the problem again a different way. Life is so much more complex than simply solving problems from a textbook and therefore my classroom will be more complex than solving problems from a textbook.