It is hard to believe I wrote this over five years ago while in graduate school. Even with how much I have changed, my core beliefs remain.
I strive for an equitable pedagogy that makes mathematics accessible, relevant, and meaningful to all students. I believe that all students can and should learn math, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. Mathematics can unlock career paths and particular views of society and of the world, but it is also incredibly beautiful and worth learning for curiosity’s sake; I want all of my students to see this. In order for my students to authentically learn the content, though, it must be grounded in and contextualized through the lens of their lives. Using real world metaphors for math concepts is how I help strengthen students’ mental models, such as by turning variables into basketball players who have to make a substitution in the game.
I believe my primary task is to build relationships with my students and to facilitate them building relationships with each other. This is for the purpose of aiming my teaching at specific interests and learning styles but also to help students build autonomy in their learning environment. A well-established learning community based in both students and teachers posing guiding questions is essential to student achievement. In the mathematical community we collaboratively learn and develop mathematics through culturally relative and sensitive tasks. Mathematics never functions in a vacuum in the real world, neither should it in the classroom. While I aim for students to learn from me, I also learn from my students. We are co-learners who promote and depend upon one another’s success. My students help me better understand my content, and I feel that it is important to communicate that to them. Intelligence is not fixed and I push the idea of a “growth mindset” in the classroom. When students say they are “not smart at math,” I tell them there is no such thing as smart, only hard work. Learning happens through active participation.
I strive to create situations that allow student to learn, rather than seeking to impart knowledge. Students must develop the skills to work with technology fluently and at the same time, use technology to support developing fluency in mathematics. I believe in using technology strategically to support learning so that is a “think with me tool,” not a “think for me tool.” Creating online interactive worksheets that allow students to check their Algebraic computations and function graphing abilities is one of many ways I use technology in the classroom.
By creatively using technology, facilitating cooperative group work, and most important, building and using my relationships with students, I believe I will establish and maintain an equitable environment where all students can find a ways to connect to the mathematics.