Address: 106 North Magnolia, Crescent, OK 73028 | Phone: 405-969-2190 | Fax: 405-969-2003
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Mathematics Teaching Philosophy

 

Michael D. Lemmon

 

Personal Background

This will be my 4th year of teaching mathematics at Crescent Middle School and my 21st year of teaching overall.  I grew up in the small Northwest Oklahoma town of Carmen.  After graduating from Carmen-Dacoma High School I attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education.  My wife Keeta and I live in Edmond Oklahoma and have been married for 33 years.  She currently serves as the Director of Finance/HR for KIPP OKC College Prep.  Our son Jaden lives in Oklahoma City and works as a Software Engineer while our daughter Jara lives in Florida and works as a Fashion Designer.

For some reason I was naturally drawn to mathematics at an early age.  One of my first memories was counting beads on an abacus in kindergarten and enjoying the challenge of reaching the highest number.  As my education continued and math became more difficult I liked it even more.  Being able to find a solution to a problem that could be proven correct was very fulfilling and motivated me to become a teacher.  After taking an Educational Principles class in graduate school I discovered my personal philosophy more closely aligns with Realism (which in simple terms means “ the quality or fact of representing a person, thing or situation accurately”).  Over the years the three most common complaints I have heard from students are math is boring, too hard, and pointless.  So my teaching philosophy has evolved into trying to make math engaging, do-able, and important.

Student Engagement

I feel students must believe they can learn to be successful.  To accomplish this they must be behaviorally engaged(doing what they are supposed to be doing), emotionally engaged(having a good attitude toward learning), and cognitively engaged(desire to understand something).  There are many factors that impact the ability to keep students involved. 

Pedagogical Effectiveness

I believe the art and science of teaching is a journey and not a destination.  It’s something that continuously adapts to meet the individual and group needs of students.  Here is a list of practices that I focus on: 

=      Arranging classroom seating to accommodate students needs.

=      Making learning objectives clear.

=      Encouraging students to ask questions.

=      Including all students.

=      Listening to students.

=      Willing to help students.

Classroom Environment

I think it is important to create a classroom environment where distractions are minimized and students are actively engaged.  I strive to be organized, well-prepared , and want students to feel safe.

Expectations

I explain to students on day one.  Here is my list:

=      Always behave in a respectful manner.

=      Be prepared for class every day.

=      Work Ethic-Complete Assignments-Willingness to TRY and sometimes fail.

=      Good Attendance.

=      Good Attitude

=      Participation

Supportive Relationships

Students who feel connected to the school are more likely to succeed.  They have better attendance, grades, and test scores.  To build relationships it’s important to interact with students in a respectful manner, offer help, and know about student’s backgrounds/interests.

Sense of Belonging

I believe the key idea is for students to feel important and valued.  Here are some practices that I focus on:

=      Know and call students by name.

=      Spell students name correctly.

=      Take time to talk with students.

=      Listen to students.

=      Smile

Interest in Subject

I feel it is important to teach with a confident knowledge of your subject.  It is also important to demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for mathematics.  Show relevance by connecting with real-world examples and real life stories.

Grit

For me grit is the persistence to overcome obstacles.  It is also maintaining high expectations for students.  My observation has been kids in affluent homes generally don’t need as much grit to be successful as kids who grow up in poverty.

Learning Strategies

Since not all kids learn the same way and respond well to the same learning methods it good to implement a variety of  strategies.  Here is a list of some strategies I have used:

=      Direct Instruction-Lecturing

=      Interactive Instruction-Students Teaching Students

=      Independent Study-Solitary

=      Experimental Learning-Conduct Experiments

=      Hands-On Learning-Building Models

=      Cooperative Learning- Working in Small Groups

 

 

 

Making Math Do-Able

Mathematics is not always easy but it can be presented in a way to make it easier to understand.  I focus on breaking concepts up into the smallest parts possible.  I encourage students to ask questions, show work, and TRY.  The Trying is the most important part.  Students learn a great deal from Trying new things.

Making Math Important

Over the years I have students ask, “When will I ever need this?”  or say, “I will never use this.”  They do not believe this will be important to them.  I explain the ability to “think mathematically” which is the ability to think logically, organize known information, and accurately follow steps will be very useful in life.  It is important for students to see the bigger picture of how to become problem solvers.

                                  
                                    
 
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CONGRATULATIONS!

To the 31 Math Students who improved their semester grade average during distance learning!  Way to go!! 
Crescent
Public Schools

106 North Magnolia, Crescent, OK 73028
Phone: 405-969-2190 | Fax: 405-969-2003
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