Blog #9 – CONSTANTLY LOOKING FOR BETTER WAYS TO TEACH A CONCEPT

Teachers that I meet at workshops and parents that talk to me frequently, ask me how I can remain so motivated about teaching and writing instructional math workbooks. The answer is simple. I am constantly looking for better ways to teach a concept or a faster way to solve a mathematics problem. I have been doing this for more than 50 years. During my freshman year in high school I joined the Number Sense team at my high school. The coach did not know any shortcuts, but he did give me a workbook that contained 1001 problems. Solutions for the problems were not included. At the time I was enrolled in Algebra 1. Studying the problems and using the Algebra 1 knowledge that I was acquiring, I began developing shortcuts for some of the problems. Developing mathematics shortcuts became an obsession during that time and it continues being an obsession at the present time. Through the years I have studied materials from the University Interscholastic League (UIL), Texas Math and Science Coaches Association (TMSCA), Private Schools Interscholastic Association (PSIA) and Math League. I have studied materials ranging from elementary school to high school. During the last 50 years I think that I may have developed more mathematics shortcuts than anyone in the world. Besides studying Number Sense tests I have also been studying Mathematics tests, these tests have required that I expand my knowledge of mathematics.

Since 1973, I have been a classroom teacher, a personal tutor or an online tutor of mathematics. Since then, I have sought to find better ways of teaching math concepts. The experience acquired developing shortcuts has had a positive impact in the teacher and writer that I am today. Many teachers spend their lifetimes developing their knowledge of the content they are teaching and becoming better teachers. I have done the same, but have also pushed myself to find new paths that have never been traveled before. Although I retired from teaching in the classroom, my online tutoring experience (working with elementary, middle school, and high school students) has given me a unique opportunity to be engaged with mathematics on a daily basis. At the present time I tutor seven days a week, I teach students concepts from Number Sense, Calculator Applications and Mathematics. These three contents have evolved immensely. Current middle school tests are dominated with content from Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2. I have had to develop ways to prepare students for these tests beginning when they are enrolled in sixth grade. As a result, I am still in search of better ways to teach math concepts and faster ways to solve problems. The challenge posed by the development of mathematics contests is what makes my work so exciting. I believe that I am more motivated to teach and write at the present time than at any other time in my career. I look forward to the future, I have so much more things that I want to share with teachers, students, parents and anyone else interested in mathematics. I thank God for giving me the ability to do what I love.

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