The greatest satisfaction that I get from teaching is derived when I invite students to join me in a journey of discovery. As often as I can, I attempt to develop a lesson in such a way that I introduce basic concepts initially and then ask students to assist me in finding a solution to a more complex problem. During this process I encourage students to use common sense and logic to find a way to solve problems that they have never seen before. Through the questioning process I try to lead them to develop a formula or to be resourceful in using concepts that have been previously taught to insure student success in finding a solution to a challenging problem. Students are asked to be inquisitive.
Using modeling, I demonstrate that I am willing to take risks when solving problems. Many times students are afraid that they may look foolish in attempting a different way to solve a problem. Early in the school year, I share stories of innovative solutions that some of my ex-students have found by being risk-takers, I provide the names of those students. I find that students are inspired to follow a similar path during the time that they are in my class. When taking an intellectual journey, the path is not always clearly defined. Teachers should lead by example on how to pursue new paths. Finding new paths is exciting. If teachers are enthusiastic, students will be motivated to follow you in the journey of discovery.
There have been numerous times when I find a unique solution for a problem. During those occasions I make sure that they can see the joy that I feel. Students need to see that even teachers are striving to develop new ways of teaching a concept or solving problems. Sometimes, I have made a new discovery because of a question that a student has asked me in class. When this happens, I thank the student for stimulating the discovery process. Make sure that students are aware that just like in the classroom, they should seek to continuously expand their knowledge in everything they do. Those that continue to work on improving themselves by seeking new knowledge will find that happiness is more attainable.
I still have the same curiosity for discovery that I had when I was a child. It has been 60 years since I decided to become a teacher. I still wake up each day looking forward to work with students online, writing instructional mathematics workbooks or continuing my quest for discovering new and better ways to solve mathematics problems.