I felt from a very early age (think “first week of kindergarten”) that I wanted to be a teacher, and 8th grade algebra pretty much nailed the math thing for me. After that, I paid more attention to how my teachers taught than to the subject they were teaching – and borrowed it. So I guess I should cite my sources.
Mrs. Burnell, 8th grade algebra, taught me that structure in algebra is important to develop – if you made math easy to follow then it would become easy to understand. Mr. Phillips, 11th grade PreCalculus, knew I’d use the values of the trigonometric special angles well into graduate school and gave regular unit circle quizzes to check it – I’m just returning the favor to my trig students. Mr. Chiara, 9th grade biology, said we couldn’t study biology without understanding the terminology and gave oral vocabulary quizzes to force us to review it – this is easily applied to my Geometry class with its whole slew of terms. Miss Hawkins thought daily review of notes was essential to moving on to new material and gave short daily quizzes – yes, IB math, you can thank my 11th grade science teacher for that one.
Mrs. Lingle, 7th grade math, thought math was more than just solving equations and gave us logic puzzles, brain teasers and conundrums to work out when we were done with our lessons. This was reinforced by Mr. Wertheimer, my advisor in graduate school, who preached that every minute counts, so fill it with learning. He also said that strategy games develop logical thinking – yay math-imagination!
More generally, Miss Giardina, my 6th grade homeroom teacher, asked about our weekends, had us share stories about our lives, and always wished each student “A good afternoon!” when we left class – she said school was more than “learning book stuff”, it was knowing and respecting the people. Might come as no surprise – she was my best teacher.
So many of my teachers gave me more than “book learning” – and for that I thank them.