You’d never guess since I’m a bit of a nerd now, but math was not my favorite subject in high school. I struggled with math and didn’t understand why or why I needed to learn it.
That limiting belief followed me into my adult life and made me insecure about my abilities to follow through with other things, too. I dropped a lot of classes in college when they “got hard”.
I didn’t finish college the first time, partly too, because the major I thought I wanted didn’t really feel right. So I left school and went to work.
After about 10 years of working in offices in downtown Minneapolis, I couldn’t move ahead because I didn’t have a college degree. It was necessary to go back to school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.
Thought I wanted to be a science teacher. While taking classes, I had a temp job as a receptionist at a career counseling service. Almost every day, a person would call for help to switch careers because, in order to advance in the job they currently had, they would need to take more course work that included a math course.
These people were willing to start over instead of take a math class! That’s when it hit me – it wasn’t just me!
Insecurity about doing math was holding back a lot of people from doing things they wanted to do. And then I realized that it wasn’t the topic, but rather how math was taught that didn’t work for a lot of us. That’s when I knew I needed to be a math teacher.
(True story…the career counselors had me complete their interest inventories and advised that I was making a mistake because I had “nothing in common” with other math teachers. My reply – “I know. That’s the point.”)
I’ve taught for over 20 years and I’ve always researched to learn more about how people learn best . When asked, I happily taught new classes to deepen my understanding of how the entire high school curriculum was connected.
I’ve taught every level offered in my district between from 8th grade math through second year calculus.
In 2003, I completed the year-long process and earned National Board Certification for teaching high school mathematics.
In 2006, I was awarded the American Star of Teaching Award from the US Department of Education. Only one teacher in each state was selected for that award. It was a surprise – one of those school assemblies you think is about something else.
In 2009, I completed a Masters in Instructional Leadership with work focused on how kids learn.
Over my career, the science about learning has advanced because technology used to study the brain has advanced. So much has been learned about “brain plasticity” and how our thoughts can influence how our brains grow and how patterns of thought become reflexive thinking. Carol Dweck’s research on mindsets is fascinating!
This research changed my teaching practice dramatically! People learn math best when given flexibility to learn at their own pace, guided and supported by a “math coach”.
Expanding my practice from classroom to online coaching just makes sense because kids learn math best when COACHED.
A little bit about me that’s more personal…
I’ve been married to this wonder guy since 1995. We have 3 fur kids, Tippy, Peanut, and our newest is a beautiful little pittie we rescued name Belle.
In 2009, my health had deteriorated from stress and lack of self-care. Doctors told me to change or expect more problems and a likely early death. So I did exactly that.
Years of watching my students do “hard stuff” because I told them they could, inspired me walk my talk to do some “hard stuff” to change my life.
Competitive bodybuilding provides the structure, goal-setting, and discipline I need to counter the crazy-busy-stressful life of a teacher. If you’re curious and want to learn more about how I changed my health, my fitness website is called Lifting My Spirits.