My budding love of teaching, stemming from my larger love of math and learning

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I see myself as a student striving for great knowledge and a better understanding of both my particular role in life and life in general. -- Kay Toliver

Audrey F. is a great teacher. She works as a kindergarten & mentor teacher at a dual language elementary school. The district that Audrey works in always has a great professional development line up for the first couple in-service days of the school year. (I had the privileged of attending my first year teaching because that was the district I worked in, and if I weren’t already going to be in school this year, I would probably sneak into the workshops this year).

Last fall I received a phone call from Audrey after she had attended these beginning of the year workshops. She said “ER, I just had the best workshop. Kay Toliver is AMAZING. I am not even a math teacher and I want to teach math now because I had this workshop. I am sending you a copy of this DVD and you HAVE to watch it”.

And she did. Then for the 4 months every time I talked with Audrey she would say, “ER have you watched those DVDs yet? No, why not?!?! They will change your life!” She would post on my Facebook page, “ER, have you watched those DVDs?”

Well, finally on xmas break while sitting in the Buffalo, NY airport, I finally popped in the DVD. WOW…why had a waited sooooooo long to watch these videos? Let me tell you, the way that Kay Toliver teaches is how I have envisioned that I would teach since I decided that I was going to be BORN AGAIN. Ms. Toliver describes her style of teaching as “teaching and learning through listening, speaking and writing.” Isn’t this how all teaching should be?

I realized that I wasn’t teaching this way. I was feeling so much pressure to get through content that I wasn’t able to full embrace what Kay was doing. I wasn’t teaching problem solving, I was teaching content and I was teaching content in a way that I was shoving it down their throats…NOT the type of teacher that I want to be.

The past couple of days I have been reading whatever I can find about Ms. Toliver. There isn’t much out there that is FREE. Although she was once an inner city classroom teacher, I believe that she now makes her living in professional development for teachers. Here is a link to one of her videos about Triangles in Architecture.

One the best statements that I have read is the one that I used at the beginning of this post. Ms. Toliver has also written, “I believe that every student can succeed in math, even if they have never been successful before.” And I guess this is my mantra for this upcoming school year. And I am going to keep telling myself that, I am going to tell colleagues that, and I am going to tell parents that if I have a chance.

From the videos that I have (about 16), I am going to write up lesson plans for my classes. Each video is only about 10-12 minutes long, but I think that I can write up a pretty decent lesson from what is shown. I am going to implement most of them in my Pre-Algebra class. It is the class that I have a little more freedom in. This class will consist of those students that have never truly been successful in math before, but it is going to be my goal this year to help them achieve this success. I am really excited about the flexibility that I am going to have in this class.

My geometry classes I don’t have as much freedom in. These are mostly college bound kids, and the amount of content that I have to get through is A LOT!! But I am hoping to implement little bits into those classes, and hopefully after a few years (will cross my fingers every day that I will be at this job for a second year) that those classes too will evolve, or you could say be born again.

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