I have wanted to be a math teacher since I was in seventh grade. Teaching always came natural to me because I believe that I make a difference in each of my student’s lives. It is a great challenge trying to develop ways for students to understand and be successful in Math. Teaching math and making it fun for my students has been a goal that I have worked hard to achieve.
I teach the material step-by-step and if the students have questions, they need to ask immediately. My favorite question is, “Why am I doing this?” This must be answered. My desire and objective is to see the class learn and understand the concepts and how to apply them to the problems and in real life also. “DON’T MEMORIZE,” is the byword of every semester.
I try to engage the interest of students by showing the relevance of the subject matter in their lives. Students pay most attention when the discussion relates to things that happen in their everyday life.
I think the best way for students to understand word problems is for them to put ideas into writing and solve their own problems with the hopes of alleviating some of their fears.
Every semester I add important ideas to my previous syllabus. I provide any information that a student needs to know about the course to succeed in the class. The purpose of courses and requirements for success in class are made very clear in my syllabus.
Students are required to do a “Course Term Paper.” The paper is designed to foster analytical thinking and an appreciation of mathematics and the students’ majors. I actively promote student study groups. I give more time in class to do teamwork so I could be sure each student understands the lecture.
While I use some lecture and traditional testing, I also use discovery learning. We spend one class period outside the class room; each student observes their surroundings, comes up with a question about their observations (related to math) and develops a hypothesis. I found that students who may not speak out in class have a lot to say outside the class.
During the academic year I use multimedia technology (e.g., Sketchpad and Excel software to show how to change the parameters of the graph using sliders), and the computer lab. Using these visualization tools makes abstract concepts useful and interesting; it also helps to facilitate the understanding of concepts. I always try to vary the structure of the class by mixing review, new material, and practice. The transition from one activity to the other is done efficiently due to this.
Clear expectations stated in the syllabus are a positive way to communicate rules to students. I convey to my students the need to clearly understand their responsibilities, what is expected of them, and what the consequences of their actions are. Much of what we do in our classes is teaching students how to be good students. They need the guidance to develop good habits.
A significant problem I am facing in my class is that too many students have minimal skills in mathematics, which makes it difficult to meet the needs of these students without ignoring those who are well-prepared and highly motivated. I developed different types of activities to make students less frustrated and taught at a pace that promotes success; drop-out rates and failure rates are significantly lower.
I implement an appropriate classroom assessment technique that provides feed back on student learning such as: written assignments, tests, quizzes, team work, projects, and continuous no graded assessment techniques.
My professional development is to develop a new vision in teaching methods by attending national and regional conferences (NMMACTYC, NMACC, BLC, SUN CONFERENCE, and AMATYC). My focus for these conferences will be to gain knowledge of teaching methodologies and how technology can be incorporated into the classroom. Also I attended some teaching events at the NMSU Teaching Academy. These provided me with a vast network of information and helped me think about different teaching styles.
To continue being informed about math-specific learning disabilities and continue to investigate new ways of formalizing this pursuit, I am still working to assist blind students at the new DABCC MATSD Lab.
• Shakir Manshad, Mathematics, Doña Ana Branch Community College