The last time that I sat in a mathematics classroom, I remember imagining how I would teach the lesson if it were my classroom. All through school, I would analyze how teachers delivered their lessons and would think of ways that I could improve the lesson. When I felt that a lesson lacked in engagement, I first considered the content of the lesson, but usually tended to focus on the teacher’s method of delivery. At first, I thought that the teacher’s role was simply to bestow knowledge on his/her students. Over the years, I came to realize how stagnant that description of teaching really was. Instead, I began to see teaching as an increasingly dynamic role in education. The teachers that were more engaging were normally more entertaining. Their lessons did not consist solely of lecturing to their students. They delivered lessons in multiple ways, even offering different ways of explaining the same concept. They shared their excitement for the material and challenged their students to do their best.
Much of what I observed as a student is evident in my own philosophy of teaching. In mathematics, there is more to address than simply showing students how to solve problems. Mathematics is not only a subject that is fundamentally sound in logic, but it provides a catalyst for exploring and appreciating the nature of other subjects. Consequently, the beauty of learning mathematics is in seeing how profoundly it describes the world we experience. Likewise, learning mathematics allows students to reflect on the complex processes of their thought as a series of interrelated logical steps. Thus, teaching mathematics requires more than providing students with the opportunity to apply concepts to real world situations, it requires the teacher to inspire students to see mathematics in every aspect of the world and better understand the mathematical reasoning of their own thought.
In order to inspire students to think mathematically, I need to integrate opportunities for students to engage mathematics at different levels and modalities. Experiential learning provides students with the opportunity to engage mathematics kinesthetically by having them apply mathematical concepts to real-life situations. Performance-based tasks allow students to critically analyze mathematical situations in collaboration with the efforts of their peers. This collaboration drives peer learning as students engage a particular task and work with their peers on developing an optimal solution. Even though mathematics may not seem to be the most likely subject for including English language development, it does provide an excellent means for developing English language proficiency while fostering mathematical fluency. Using collaborative models that thrive on problem-based and project-based learning are ideal ways of engaging students through social interaction, while providing a way to formatively assess the students’ understanding of the material. As I continue to develop my skills as an educator, I will always need to update my knowledge of current pedagogical trends, explore opportunities for collaborating with other educators in the same content area, and be consistently open to engaging students in mathematics through a process of learning that not only teaches them mathematics, but inspires them to think mathematically.