Teaching with Technology Portfolio:
Teaching Philosophy
I was sitting in my office on a sunny July afternoon when Carrie told me, “I prefer math… I’m really more of a math person,” while talking about her summer courses. She may not have realized it, but that was an important moment in her life.
I met Carrie 7 months earlier; she was a student in my differential equations class. I asked to meet with her after I noticed she had made some mistakes on the first homework. That assignment was written to assess my students’ prerequisite knowledge. I do this for every class in order to address gaps early and set my students up for success. When we met, she told me, “I’m just not a math person.”
My philosophy is that everyone is a math person. Mathematics is just a formalization of how humans naturally solve problems. I explained to Carrie that struggling in a past math class does not mean you are bad at math. It does, however, mean that you have some gaps that need to be addressed, which requires work.
I communicate two things to my students: (1) learning math means a lot of practice and (2) mistakes are an important part of that practice. My first class consists of a powerpoint presentation that summarizes my philosophy on learning math and explains how this philosophy informs my class structure. Essentially, it translates to daily practice, fast feedback, and an opportunity for the student to make revisions—daily practice solidifies the knowledge, fast feedback quickly indicates when review is needed, and revision means the grading system accounts for improvements over time.
There are many ways in which I can set up such a structure, but, as someone who is particularly concerned with increasing diversity in mathematics, it is a priority to me that I create a system that works for a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Explicitly, I try to accommodate students who
I met Carrie 7 months earlier; she was a student in my differential equations class. I asked to meet with her after I noticed she had made some mistakes on the first homework. That assignment was written to assess my students’ prerequisite knowledge. I do this for every class in order to address gaps early and set my students up for success. When we met, she told me, “I’m just not a math person.”
My philosophy is that everyone is a math person. Mathematics is just a formalization of how humans naturally solve problems. I explained to Carrie that struggling in a past math class does not mean you are bad at math. It does, however, mean that you have some gaps that need to be addressed, which requires work.
I communicate two things to my students: (1) learning math means a lot of practice and (2) mistakes are an important part of that practice. My first class consists of a powerpoint presentation that summarizes my philosophy on learning math and explains how this philosophy informs my class structure. Essentially, it translates to daily practice, fast feedback, and an opportunity for the student to make revisions—daily practice solidifies the knowledge, fast feedback quickly indicates when review is needed, and revision means the grading system accounts for improvements over time.
There are many ways in which I can set up such a structure, but, as someone who is particularly concerned with increasing diversity in mathematics, it is a priority to me that I create a system that works for a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Explicitly, I try to accommodate students who

I address these issues in the following ways

With this set up, I can accommodate both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated students, both collaborative and competitive students, and students anywhere on the financial and the learning autonomy spectrum. Semester after semester, my student reviews confirm that this system works for them.
Although my approach works well, I am always looking to improve. I have taken Stanford’s course How to Learn Math and Penn State’s Course on College Teaching. I also run a weekly discussion group that analyzes research on mathematics education. Most importantly, I ask for feedback from my students by sending out anonymous surveys. Everything I learn, I incorporate whenever possible. My approach to teaching is similar to the system I use on my students: constant study, feedback, and revision.
Although my approach works well, I am always looking to improve. I have taken Stanford’s course How to Learn Math and Penn State’s Course on College Teaching. I also run a weekly discussion group that analyzes research on mathematics education. Most importantly, I ask for feedback from my students by sending out anonymous surveys. Everything I learn, I incorporate whenever possible. My approach to teaching is similar to the system I use on my students: constant study, feedback, and revision.