A common characteristic of outstanding teachers is that they are innovative. In their quest to be the best teachers they can be, they work diligently in finding the best way to teach every mathematics concept. Very often these teachers are using the Internet to research their content area. Sometimes they are looking for resources to make their content area more relevant. Sometimes they are searching for video to observe how other teachers present certain topics to their students. Many times these teachers are trying to reinforce their own knowledge of the content that they are teaching.
Before becoming a teacher, I spent a lot of time observing teachers. Since I had decided to become a teacher when I was six years old, I spent a lot of my time watching how teachers motivated their students. I watched intently to determine how they inspired learning. I was mesmerized by how the teachers developed a learning environment and how they presented all content matter. I paid close attention as to how they disciplined their students. Thus, I was not only learning content while in the classroom, but I was learning how to teach.
While enrolled as a freshman at Mission High School, I joined the school’s Number Sense team. At that time, my coach’s knowledge of Number Sense was very little. At that time, I began developing shortcuts to solve problems mentally. More than 50 years later, I am still developing faster ways to solve problems. I love studying tests (elementary school, middle school and high school) from the University Interscholastic League (UIL), the Texas Math and Science Coaches Association (TMSCA), the Private Schools Interscholastic Association (PSIA) and Math League. Through the years, I have developed thousands of mathematics shortcuts. These are now part of the numerous instructional mathematics workbooks that I have written.
I started searching for better ways to teach mathematics concepts when I was a student teacher at Mission Junior High. Up until the present day, I have spent more than 44 years looking for the most effective way to teach mathematics to my students. Although I am no longer a classroom teacher, I implement a lot of these techniques with the students that I tutor online. I am happy that I have discovered new ways to teach while tutoring. Sometimes students that I tutor have developed new techniques that I have integrated with their peers.
I encourage all teachers to always be on the lookout for innovative teaching techniques and solutions to problems that they solve. Teachers should share the joy of discovery with their students. Students are inspired when they observe how teachers react positively to new discoveries. It encourages students to do the same. I am confident that teachers will be innovative if they are committed to improving themselves through hard work and dedication.