Mathematics-Teaching Education with an emphasis in Secondary Education. Let me rephrase that, I intend to get a degree which will allow me to teach math to high school students. I've just spent the last 3 months learning how to effectively teach high school math and the last 3 years studying to be a math educator. I am so close to the end of this journey, so close to the "real world", so close to application of everything I've been studying for so long, and yet I am miles away from being at peace about that reality. Read through the titles of my blogs over the course of this semester; human connections, today is not about math, teaching is more than teaching. The screaming trend in my blogs is that I am more passionate about students than I will ever be about math. I wrote the past three blogs on things that had little to nothing to do with math because that is not what I love about teaching, that's not what I am passionate about.
Although I would love to write about all my passions and where I would aspire to be, I am writing this blog for a specific class and so I will instead write about what things I have a learned that are imporant in the classroom that I will take with me.
You are probably thinking, what is next for her? If she's not going to teach, what is she going to do?
Switching majors? Taking a semester off? Trying out new careers?
Great question and I wish I could tell you the answers.
I honestly don't know what is next for me.
Math as taught me a lot, so here are a few things from this semester
I know I will take with me wherever I end up...
1. I know... Two are greater than one. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Teamwork and collaboration have been key in the majority of the math activties we have learned in this past semester. Teaching students how to work in a group setting is crucial in learning and understanding math. Hearing a peer's understanding of topics can have such an impact on students learning. Having the ability to share ideas, discuss ways of solving problems, hearing strategies for individuals own understanding, and working along side a peer goes far beyond a math class. Lecturing students can be benefical but interactive, hands on, group work grabs students attentions much more intently. I've seen this first hand in many of my obersvations this past semester. This is a skill that should be implemented in every math class, not only because it is important in the real world but because math is not individual, it's a collaborative subject that, at times, takes teamwork to fully grasp. Teamwork and collaboration encompasses oral communication, creative thinking, listening skills, problem solving, and so much more. Math teachers have the opportunity to expose students to skills that not only enhance their math understanding but will also further them in life and the workplace.
2. I know... The importance of reasoning. (1 Peter 3:15)
As stated in Mathematical Mindsets, "People who just give answers to calculations are not useful in the workplace; they must be able to reason through them." This skill, which we have learned is crucial in a math class, teaches students to give a reason behind their answers as well as critique each other's reasoning. Students rarely understand ideas without talking through them, asking questions, and understanding why things work. This ties in perfectly with teamwork because it provides students the opportunity to explain their reasoning and understanding, which not only benefits the student who is reasoning but also the student who is listening. Students are far more engaged if they are assigned an activity in which they get to discover and discuss a way to solve the problem rather then being told to solve a problem by plugging numbers into an equation. The act of reasoning as well as hearing other's reason is an engaging environment for students. Outside of school, being able to reason why you believe what you believe is such a critical skill. There's not many people who will just accept something without reasoning behind why it is correct. In middle school and high school, math teachers have the opportunity to expose students to this vital skill that will go well beyong math class.
3. I know... Math is EVERYWHERE! (Gensis 6:5)
The things that hold true in a math classroom also hold true in the world. Using math activties that relate back to the real world is so important for students. Math is relevant way beyond the classroom and introducing that idea and incorporating it into each topic/activity can grab students attention. The things student learn in math class can and will be used throughout their life whether they like it or not. The activties that teachers choose to incorporate during class should show students the relevance of that they are learning in the work place or life in general. If I am learning about a topic in which I see no purpose, I probably won't understand it to the best of my ability. But, if I am informed on the application of the things I am learning, I am far more likely to pay attention, ask questions, and be engaged. Would you agree?
Those three things are just a small fraction of the many things that math as taught me beyond numbers and equations. Understanding math, teaching math, and learning math can be so frusterating for people but I think if they realized the overall benefit it has on your skill set, they would be more determined in trying to understand it. Although I am getting out of a career in math, I will never be able to escape a lifetime of using it! Teaching math is not just a skill that embodies numbers, graphs, and tables. It is an ability to break down a difficult topic, to explain why you believe what you believe, to create a space that allows students to create their own beliefs, and to adjust your way of thinking to better understand someone elses. It is not an easy job and I give so much credit to those who can do it.
As this semester comes to an end, I am so excited for the future of my classmates. Their excitement and eagerness for their future career in education makes me excited about whatever is next in my future. Reflecting back on my past math teachers, I can't think of one that was filled as much joy as the people I've been able to get know this semester that will soon be teaching the future generations. I believe this because through this course we were able to understand how to reason what we know and use tools/resources to reason more efficiently. As a teacher, if you can understand a topic from multiple different aspects - you can reach many, many more students. In closing, I am thankful I've learned skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I may not ever use specific math activities but I will use the strategies to teach those activities in my future. I now have the ability to explain more deeply, listen more intently, and thinking more critical.
Math will forever be apart of me, even if it's not in my career title.