Here at LearnBop we have a team of amazing educators with diverse backgrounds who have come on board to author content for our interactive Bops. To help you get to know them better, we have a series of Author Profiles. Today's installment is written by Cheryl Winberry, a valued member of our author team.
When I graduated high school, I swore I would never be a teacher. But here I am seventeen years later, and I would not consider any other profession.
When I was in my first semester of college I changed my major from Accounting to Secondary Mathematics Education. My decision was made for many different reasons. One, I wanted a family one day and thought that a teacher would have summers off and be able to spend time raising a family. (Notice I used the word “thought”.) Even though summers are spent preparing for the next school year and recovering from the previous, I do get more time with my children than moms in other professions.
Two, Mathematics has always been a strong subject for me. I can remember sitting in class and the teacher going over the same example two and three times and thinking “Why can’t you understand this?” Last, and perhaps most importantly, my mom decided to go back to school and obtain a nursing license. Her strength is not math. I was helping her one day with a math problem, we had worked the same problem, a few times, and I impatiently said “What don’t you get, why is this so hard to understand?” and her reply almost made me cry. I felt like the most inconsiderate person when she said “If I understood it enough to answer that, then I wouldn’t need your help.”
That’s when I knew that I needed to find another way to help her. I learned by helping my mom that an explanation has to be made in a non-math person’s perspective and then developed into a formal math concept. To this day, I prepare every lesson with that in mind, starting at their level of understanding and developing it into more. I now am in my seventeenth year of teaching; I have been in four different districts, in two different states. I have taught every level of mathematics from seventh grade up to and including AP Calculus, with the exception of eighth grade.
I was approached by a college and asked if I would be interested in becoming a LearnBop author. I agreed because I saw this as a chance to help students succeed in mathematics. My biggest challenge is getting started on a Bop. I read the standard (multiple times) and ask myself “What would I as a teacher want my students to be able to do to be considered a master at the standard?”
As I write the question, I am already thinking of the steps need to reach the solution and what hints a student might need to complete the problem. Just like I do in my classroom, I order the steps in a manner that will start at their level of understanding and develop into the concept being assessed. My biggest success as a teacher is the moment a student says “Ooooohhhh, I get it!” When I write a Bop my hope is that the students who do it later will have the same response.
Cheryl Winberry holds a master’s degree in Secondary Mathematics, and has been teaching for seventeen years.