Blog #104 – INSPIRING EXCELLENCE

One of my goals as a teacher and mathematics coach was to inspire excellence. I tried to inspire excellence by modeling. I have been doing that for more than 44 years. I always wanted to show students how much I loved what I did. I demonstrated what I felt by the way that I sought to find the best method to explain math concepts and how I also sought to find faster ways to solve problems.

I invited my students to join me in a journey of discovery. I saw each teaching moment as an opportunity to inspire a love of learning in general and a love of mathematics in particular. Many times while solving a problem, students were curious if there was another way to solve the problem. I was always willing to take a different path to find solutions for problems. I loved when students challenged me to use non-traditional ways to solve problems. They were amazed as to how I used common knowledge to look at problems in different way ways, which made solving it easier. For example when solving the problem 15 x 18, I realized that doubling the number ending in 5 and taking half of the even number would produce a similar answer. 15 x 18 became 30 x 9, which was equal to 270. In another situation I had to convert 29/40 to a decimal fraction. I saw this problem as being 29/4, which was equal to 7 ¼. 7 ¼ was equal to 7.25. Moving the decimal point one place to the left resulted in .725. Thus, 29/40 was equal to .725.

The examples that I provided illustrated the way that I saw problems from a very young age. I was never satisfied by traditional solutions. I worked diligently to find more efficient ways to solving problems. My students were fascinated with how problems could be viewed through a different lens then that of the average teacher. Students started seeing how traditional mathematics could be used to produce faster ways of solving problems. I allowed my students to share my joy of discovery. I taught them how risk taking could produce extraordinary results. On a daily basis they witnessed as I took complex concepts and subdivided them into subtopics that were easier to master.

They saw me develop the foundation and then saw me build on that foundation with each new problem that I solved. Each day they saw the construction of mathematics. They saw me build mathematics like a builder constructed a building. As I unveiled the magic of mathematics, my students were inspired to erect their own buildings (mathematics). Through the years, I enjoyed seeing my students share their own success stories in developing unique solutions to problems. Many of my students took what they learned from me and shared it with others. Some became teachers. Others shared their acquired knowledge with their children and peers. I take pride in my contributions to education. I pray that I will be able to share my knowledge through the materials that I produce. I hope that I can inspire excellence even when I am gone.

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