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Starting Axioms

My name is Richard, and I am a math teacher.

If you are a certified teacher who works in a public school, then we do not have the same background and we may not share many of the same experiences.  I don’t think this should get in the way of what we are all trying to do, which is to create strong, academically motivated students.

I started teaching at summer camps when I was fourteen.  After eight summers running Outdoor Living Skills programs in Oregon and South Carolina, I began teaching web design and study hall at a middle school afterschool program.  As I returned to college, I taught Service Learning courses and discussion sections for College Algebra.  I earned a degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education and planned to apply for a Masters degree.

That whole college part of our backgrounds may be similar.

My carefully planned Graduate Teaching Fellow opportunity fell apart, and I took a year off to save money.  As June came back around, I saw a job posting for an advanced mathematics teacher at a small, private, alternative, college prep school.  I applied and emerged victorious.

When I arrived at my school, I was told that my curriculum could be found in a black filing cabinet in my classroom.  I quickly opened the drawers, but every single one was empty.  I would have my first class within three weeks and, almost entirely on my own, I had to come up with assignments and lesson plans that could educate a very diverse portfolio of students.

I have just started my fourth year of teaching.  In those years, I have taught Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Geometry, Algebra 1 and 2, Physics, SAT Prep, Linear Algebra, Statistics, Number Theory, and Game Theory.  I have also been privileged to teach Western and Modern Religions, Mock Trial, and our school’s Senior Seminar.

In each of these course, I have had the opportunity to create the curriculum I wished to teach without direct supervision or guidelines beyond Oregon State Standards and the NCTM.  I have chosen the textbooks which I think best exemplify the mathematics I believe students need to learn.  I have never once had to teach for a standardized test.  My students attend colleges based on the body of work they create throughout their high school career.

I have been given the gift of absolute freedom in my teaching style.  I plan to write and tell you about it.

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