Other: Teacher Interviews
Leah's parents were teachers and she herself has been teaching for 6 years. She became a teacher because she desires to make a positive impact on young people today. She chose to teach math because it provides a foundation for students to go into fields such as engineering, science, and medicine. It also provides a foundation for students as it teaches problem solving, logic, and reasoning skills to help in everyday decision making.
QUESTION 1: Share with us a challenge that you have faced in providing quality instructions for all students, including those with disabilities.
1. Barrier that some students have about not being good at math.
2. The fact that algebra is abstract – all students struggle with this, especially students with disabilities.
3. Leah tries to build rapport with students, instill confidence in her students, and to make algebra interesting and relevant to students.
QUESTION 2: What strategy or teaching have you implemented to address these challenges?
1. To address student attitudes, the class is structured so that the first grading period is a mostly a review of previously learned material resulting in students’ receiving higher grades than they typically would in a math class. This helps build confidence and set the tone for the remainder of the class.
2. Questioning Techniques – Students know that they may be asked a question at any time during the class period. For students with learning disabilities, Leah watches for when they understand a particular problem or concept and then asks a question and calls on them to answer. Students like to answer when they know the answer.
3. Students work together to help each other understand the concepts and problems.
4. A variety of learning activities are implemented to make the class interesting and to create active learning opportunities.
5. The relevance of math to our world today is addressed through real world problems in an attempt to help students understand how algebra can be used in their daily lives.
QUESTION 3: How and where did you learn to work with learner differences in your classroom?
Leah learned to work with learner differences mainly from experience including trial and error. She has had great mentors who have helped her with using manipulatives in high school algebra. The best place to learn about learning differences is from fellow teachers.