Welcome to “What I Learned About Why My Students Didn’t Learn More”! This blog is addressed mostly to secondary-school math teachers, though I hope and expect some of it will be of interest to other STEM teachers and to parents. Who am I and why should you read what I write?
First, my background.
I had a long career going back and forth between industry and academia, mostly applying computers to solve problems in music, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and information retrieval, and concentrating on visualization and what is now called user experience design. Well, I’d always loved mathematics, but had never really concentrated on it. In addition, by 2009, I’d come to believe the average American’s general lack of understanding of math was a very serious problem and I wanted to help improve matters. So I decided to try a new career. As a student teacher, I taught at a magnet school, and I had a precalculus classroom in which many students took courses at a college less than a mile away; their schedules went in and out of sync with ours because of our block schedule, so they often missed entire weeks! (What administrators would let this ridiculous situation arise? I can only say that this was one of the Indianapolis Public Schools, schools that don’t have a reputation for good management.) In response to the situation, I created supporting materials, including 2-column notes for each lesson, and put them on a webpage. Then — while looking for a “real” job as a secondary-school teacher — I taught freshman calculus at the same college, and created a webpage for that, with improved versions of some of the same material as well as new material. Then I taught high school as a maternity-leave replacement for a short time, and when that gig was over, I had even more time to put things together.
Why should you read what I write?
1. As the above description of my recent career suggests, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend a long time thinking about and — much less common, I believe — writing the stuff I’m posting here.
2. I do okay as a teacher, but I’m not particularly talented at it. But I think I am a very good writer, and I love to think about, and write about, how things can be done better.
3. I’ve seen math education from the parent’s perspective: I have two children, both in college now.
And without further ado, voila: “What I Learned About Why My Students Didn’t Learn More.”