Why did I choose the education profession?
Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated with the process of learning. When I was in the first grade, I remember wondering how memorizing numbers would enhance my ability to understand mathematical patterns. When I was in fourth grade, I used to wonder if there was a more effective way of writing fractions that made it easy to understand them. By time I got to high school, I would reflect on the strategies that my teachers used. I would consider how well they explored a certain mathematical concept and how well they accommodated to the students’ learning needs. Other than my fascination with the process of learning, I want to make a difference in the lives of students. I want to help them see mathematics beyond the numbers and calculations. I want them to engage mathematics with enthusiasm and excitement. I want them to enjoy learning.
How did your personality affect your choice of content area?
According to a recent personality test that I took, I learned that my personality type is ENTJ (Extraverted Thinking with Introverted Intuition). After reading the description of an ENTJ and reflecting on my choice to become a mathematics educator, I realized how much of my personality influenced my choice. As an ENTJ, I focus on structure and organization. If there is any skill that I have been praised for the most, it has been my ability to organize. I have always been passionate about creating structure. When I was a student, I would analyze numbers, looking for patterns, and creating different ways of organizing them to rethink mathematics. Since mathematics is derived from the logical structure of relationships, it would be the most cohesive content area to choose, considering my inclination to focus on structure and organization. Another aspect of someone classified as an ENTJ is their drive to develop a group’s level of efficiency. While this may not necessary relate back to the content area of mathematics, it does resonate with my teaching style. Ever since I first became a mathematics educator, I have always integrated collaborative group work into my lessons. As a student, I saw its downfalls, and have strived to improve upon the collaborative process. People classified as an ENTJ are focused not only on improving systems, but also on developing groups to achieve a higher level of efficiency. As an educator, this has been one of my primary focuses in the classroom.
How does or will your personality affect your relationships with your students?
Being classified as an ENTJ personality, it fits that I am always striving to improve systems. When I teach, I see the process of learning as a system. Over the years, I have analyzed its strengths and its areas of opportunities. I have even experimented with several different instructional models in an effort to find the best method of instruction. Then, one day, I considered another perspective. All this time, I had been analyzing the process of learning from the perspective of the teacher, and not of the learner. As I spent time reflecting on the perspective of the learner, I soon transitioned my classroom from a teacher-centered environment to a student-centered environment. By doing this, the focus of the classroom shifted from the product (content mastery) to the process (mathematical reasoning). This has opened many opportunities, especially to the integration of formative assessment involving problem-based and project-based learning activities that integrate collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
How will your teaching and learning style affect your teaching and your students’ abilities to be successful?
According to a Teaching and Learning Styles Inventory that I recently took, I found out that I am a reflective, intuitive, and visual learner. I also found out that I share aspects of global and sequential learning. As I reflected on this in terms of teaching, I realized that there will be a few areas that I will naturally excel in and a few areas I will find challenging.
As a reflective learner, I appreciate lessons that are entirely lecture-based. I like being given time to think about a topic and make my own connections. This may appeal to some people, but not everyone learns this way. It might be easy for me revert to this style of teaching, but I do not necessarily have to choose between accommodating to reflective or active learners. I could accommodate to both of their learning needs. For example, I could create problem-based learning activities that apply the concepts currently being taught. Before the active learning students engage in producing a solution, the reflective learning students could lead a discussion as they consider the strengths and weakness of proposed solutions.
This same example would work in the case of sensing and intuitive learners. Students, who are sensing learners, will be able to collaborate with other students as they work towards solving a problem, by applying their knowledge of the mathematical concepts. Students, who are intuitive learners, will be able to abstract the mathematical reasoning used to develop the solution. When presenting the solution to the class, these students will be able to explain the mathematical concepts addressed, while the sensing learners will be able to explain the application of these concepts to developing the solution.
As a visual learner, I have a tendency to explain mathematical concepts using charts, diagrams, and pictures. I have to realize, though, that not all students learns this way. Some students are predominantly verbal learners. To accommodate both types of learning styles, I will need to continue provide visual aids (graphic organizers and pictures) along with opportunities for collaboration and communication. For example, much like the example provided earlier, I could design project-based learning activities where students can work together to create a visual presentation of their investigations in response to a particular question or challenge. This would allow the verbal learning students to engage in collaboration and communication and it would allow the visual learning students the opportunity to visually represent the ideas of the group.
Lastly, the Inventory reviewed that I was somewhere in between being a global learner and sequential learner. This is favorable, particularly in terms of mathematics. It’s not enough to simply teach the steps to solving a solution without taking a moment to understand the problem. In teaching mathematics, I have observed many students read a problem and begin applying a formula without understanding the problem. Applying both styles of learning to my teaching will help me foster greater mathematical fluency and reasoning within my students.
For a description of the learning styles discussed, click here.