By moving beyond that fear, you open the door to proactive risk-taking which will result in success and confidence. Let’s just grapple with the concept. Let’s become comfortable with discomfort. As a result, they replace “I’m not good at math” with “I have to work harder at it, but I can do it.” Making mistakes is part of the process.
What’s been your journey to your current position?
I’ve always loved math, and I’ve always been a natural teacher. I started at the age of 15 teaching swimming lessons. I earned a full scholarship to Howard University as a competitive swimmer, where I majored in mathematics. When I graduated, I found myself in education. I started with AmeriCorps, then transitioned into the classroom to teach high school. I came to Friendship Woodridge International to teach fifth- and sixth-grade math. I love coming to work. I find middle-school grade levels to be the most enjoyable. The kids are so lovable!
You have to have a lot of patience, which is a challenge within itself – but the natural competitor in me is up for it. Some of my scholars often walk around saying, “I’m not good at math.” It bothers me that this statement is acceptable. You’ll never hear people saying, “I’m just not good at reading.” My goal is for my scholars to leave my classroom with a positive growth mindset that will eventually mature into a love for math.
The first thing I do is to let students know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes I’ll intentionally make mistakes in class and let them know when I’m wrong. I tell them we’re all going to make mistakes, that we can grow from them but try not to make the same mistake twice. By moving beyond that fear, you open the door to proactive risk-taking which will result in success and confidence. Let’s just grapple with the concept. Let’s become comfortable with discomfort. As a result, they replace “I’m not good at math” with “I have to work harder at it, but I can do it.” Making mistakes is part of the process.
What do you like about math?
Math makes sense. I’m a logical person. It bothers me when things don’t add up. I like numbers because they’re not ambiguous. I love the variety of ways in which math can be expressed. Everywhere you look you’ll find math, whether it’s data you’re exploring or a calculation.
I actually love teaching. I love teaching because of the impact you have on the students, the relationships you build, and the fact that you’re an everyday learner. There’s always something you can learn to improve your strategy as the world changes. I was one of those students who lived at school and had so many people in my community wrap their arms around me. My mom was a single mom trying to make it on her own. I had a coach helping her out. My teachers helped. Teaching is something I enjoy doing. I feel like I’m paying it forward.
What do you think of Eureka Math?
This is my fourth year of implementing Eureka Math, and I like it a lot. I’m seeing more kids who have been exposed to it at a younger age and successfully using the place-value chart, different models, and representing concepts in different ways. Because of the way the lessons build on one another, they pick up from where they left off the year prior. It’s a reinforcement that’s necessary for a child to wants to master math.
What do you like about Friendship?
I have the autonomy to be myself in the classroom. I don’t have to deliver the curriculum in only one way. I enjoy working around educated, like-minded individuals and to be challenged to provide a world-class education.
Is there any advice you’d offer a new teacher?
Thinking back to my first year, there are going to be days when you feel like a failure. However, you’ll witness small moments that open your mind and make you realize, “Okay, I’m making a difference. I’m making an impact. Let me stick to it.” Reach out and ask your colleagues for support. Teaching has been around forever; you don’t have to feel like you have to be alone or reinvent the wheel by yourself. Also, make sure you celebrate your scholars on a weekly basis. Give them shout-outs by printing their names or pictures with a small token of congratulations. This works wonders!
Are there any fun facts you’d like to share?
I have a twin sister who lives in New York, and we look alike. When we went to the same school everyone knew us because we were always together. But now when people see us, they’re like, “Oh, you multiplied!” Another fun fact is that I’m a triathlete