What has been one of your biggest successes as a teacher?
I remember one
boy in particular. He had his own tutor at another school. He was constantly
in fights -- had a very troubled background. But he was so good in doing
things with his hands. He was just a wonderful hands-on type of kid.
We were doing an electricity unit where children make flashlights that
they could turn on and off. Usually this project takes kids several
days, if not more. Usually, you have to guide them along the way. This
kid completed it in about 5 minutes. It was one of those experiences
where you could see his self-esteem rise. He couldn't read as well as
the other kids. He couldn't do things as well as the other kids, but
his mind was really, really sharp. He could put things together in his
mind that the other kids couldn't see. When kids like that are in your
classroom, and the other kids can see it, they say, "wow!". The lights
go on. It's really rewarding.
How would you describe your approach to teaching math?
I'm in the midst
of change in the way I teach math. In science we've been promoting inquiry,
having kids discover. I have not let kids discover enough in math. We've
always followed the "this is the topic I'm going to teach" approach.
And I would teach them the topic. I'd even try to teach them in lots
of different ways, but I was more or less dictating what they were going
to learn. Now, I'm looking at more ways to guide the activities, but
have the kids discover the knowledge. This way they have the ownership.
The power is in owning it.