Q & A Autobiomathography

The following questions were asked by my Math Methods instructor. I am sharing with you my responses about my experiences with Math.

1. Describe the time you first remembered counting or using numbers in some way…when was it?  What did you do?  What was it like?

   I remember every Christmas and Birthday, from a very young age, my Uncle giving me a container of coins ($50-$100 worth). The container was always something really cute! As I prepared to purchase something with my coins, I had to count them and then fill the paper coin wrappers so that I could go to the bank to cash them in. This was very exciting for me, I never really figured out that I was learning counting & money, it was just fun!

2. Which was easier for you to learn and do when you were little…number work or reading/writing? How do you know this?

   I had so many opportunities to do all three; however, I would say that reading came to me the easiest since I was doing it all the time. I remember times with numbers getting frustrated, but I do not recall a time being frustrated with reading and writing.

3. What was math class like for you in school?  How was it different in elementary school than middle or high school?

   In Elementary school, I enjoyed math. I did not like the worksheets that seemed like a waste of time. I did like story problems, I enjoyed finding out the answer. In middle school and high school the problems and the agony began, mostly at home. My dad had learned different strategies (born in 1932) to complete problems so many arguments and tears were had during times that I needed help with my homework. Some of my teachers were fine with the different strategies and I became open to learning new things. But other teachers were not open to new ways and insisted that I continued to do it their way. I would get marked wrong even though I shared my work and came up with the right answer.

4. Describe how math classes make you feel.

   Confusion, mostly due to the different strategies that they were teaching. I often found them to not work for me. I could not wrap my brain around them. Those who would not allow the different strategies, I put up a mental wall and would not listen to them, they made me angry. I wanted to do it my way. I always felt very strongly against the idea of only having one way to do things, especially with Math. I was a good student, it is not like I was getting the answers wrong or didn’t complete my assignments.

5. What did other teachers say about you as a math student?

   Teachers either commented on my creativity towards implementing new strategies or they stated that I was stubborn and was not willing to work with them. After putting a wall up, I started to miss out on some key math functions and I had to repeat Algebra 2. At this time teachers were concerned that I was behind.

6. What did your family think of your math grades?  Why?
   My dad was furious with the way some of my teachers handled his teaching at home. He often would send notes with my homework assignments that he assisted me with. I was so embarrassed, having a note to my teacher from my parent in high school. I often would remove them before turning it in. I put up with my Dad’s arguments instead.

7. If you could change anything about the way mathematics is taught, what would you do?  Why?
   As a public school student, I would wish for teachers to be more open to new strategies. During college, this was accepted and was actually shared among the class. Some students found them to be beneficial. I have noticed my children’s teachers are more open to new ideas. They want to hear their rationale and hear them explain the way they came to the answer. This explanation allows us to know that they student gets it! It increases the student's’ self-esteem (let me tell you, I had very little self-esteem when I had my frustrations in Math) and assists them in their math abilities!

8. Do you think your attitude about mathematics and the grades you got in math are connected?

In middle school and high school, I think when I put the wall up. I stopped learning any of the strategies. I didn't understand the teacher's way and mine was not accepted. So I think they were definitely connected. When I began college math starting from the very bottom of Beginning Algebra. I was able to work through the problems through a variety of strategies. My self-esteem improved and my confidence was held high and I began to earn A’s in my classes. During this time, I believe my grades were impacted heavily on my attitude.

9. When you think of mathematics what comes to mind?

   Dread and the manipulation of numbers. A way to figure out problems.

10. What kind of things did math teachers do that help you learn mathematics well?

   Hands on work, I wanted to see the math problem and know what I was solving. Manipulatives were very helpful!

11. Put these subjects in the order you enjoy them (most favorite ————— least favorite):
    Reading Mathematics Social Studies Writing Science   

  Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, Math

12. Describe what it means to be a mathematics teacher.

     A facilitator of numbers and tools. One that will offer many tools to complete the problem. Allowing the student to choose the appropriate tool to get to the solution (it may take them awhile to choose the right one, that is okay). Requires students to explain their answer orally, they may not be able to completely put into words. Let them show you. Help them find the words to describe their actions.

13 How has your experiences in mathematics influenced your decision to be a math teacher?
My experiences with math in the past and present, both good and bad, has assisted me with the idea that I would prefer not to be a math teacher.

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Thank you for reading my post. Please comment with any questions, concerns, constructive criticisms, or information you would like to add to this subject. Docendo discimus, by teaching we learn.