Saturday, February 5, 2011

In My Spare Time

ar·cane /ɑrˈkeɪn/ –adjective known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric my spare time, I'm a math teacher... but I really love to write. The right side of my brain has, since childhood, been pretty highly developed. As I child, I was much more adept at creative endeavors than in those scientific. I was a lover of school and all things bookish and I excelled in the areas of language arts and reading. Now don't get me wrong, I was a good student in the areas of math and science too but mostly because I tried really hard; in part due to the fact I did not want to be in trouble. (More later on the parenting style that reminded you on the way out the door...."if you get in trouble at school you will be in twice as much trouble when you get home").

One might think that this love of writing would have led to my choice of careers. Maybe if I had been more courageous in my younger years, I would have worked at being a writer. However, I was really fond of eating and having a roof over my head, and as I mentioned before I had always loved school; so I followed in the family footsteps and got a teaching degree. Then when I graduated from college, every job I was offered was in the area of math. First, I taught math to inmates at a maximum security prison, then to: fifth and sixth graders, adults through a continuing education program at the local community college, seventh and eighth graders, and finally teachers.

I think there is a reason math wasn't my favorite subject while in school and that reason is also the reason I LOVE teaching math today. During my academic career I was taught a lot of arcane procedures, which in most cases, I was able to memorize. However, some of what I memorized never made sense to me, and knowing my capacity for memorization was nearing its limits, I only took as much math as was required. I don't remember ever getting to explore in math class, discovering why the rules and procedures for math really worked.

So as my teaching career progressed, I moved away from teaching the way I had been taught (those arcane procedures) to other methods that built understanding. That meant that I had to study and discover many of the things that had baffled me as a student. As I grew in my understanding of mathematics, I have tried to lead others in developing their conceptual understanding of math as well. I won't lie to you, it is a real high when you see the light bulb come on for someone; whether they are in a first grade classroom or the teacher in a math workshop. So, in my spare time, when I'm not blogging, I'm a math teacher.....

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