While I was always a good student in general, I don’t recall any particular passion for mathematics. Basically, I did what I was told and was quite successful in all my math courses all through high school. There was no particular element of joy nor pain, although I do recall liking algebra for its simple elegance and puzzle like nature.
When I arrived to my calculus class in college I realized that math wasn’t always going to be a free ride for me. There were about 150 students in that differential calculus class. I recall the professor, in his East European accent, asking us to look to our left and then to our right. He stated unequivocally that one of the three of us would not be passing his course. I was shocked and indignant at such a “threat”, but managed to pass the course nonetheless. I never took another math course until far later in my life, a decision I regret to this very day.
I pursued a bilingual teaching career out of college. I felt myself to be a passionate language learner and teacher. I concentrated intensely on literacy and writers’ workshop. I taught the math I had to teach, but without quite the same flame.
In my 6th year of teaching I came to work at Buena Vista Alternative School in SFUSD as the 4th/5th grade math and science teacher. There was a revolution of sorts in what type of mathematics was being taught and how it was being transmitted to our students. The District had just adopted MathLand by Creative Publications. It was a very constructivist curriculum. Being the clean slate that I was, I whole-heartedly adopted the program. I became a teacher trainer throughout California and was very passionate about the making math meaningful to everyone. A few years later I entered a Math Masters Program through San Francisco State University and delved deeply into the meaning of mathematics education at the elementary level. I have followed this passion and am currently teaching 7th and 8th grade math at an independent school.
This will be my fifth year teaching at my current school. It is my 24th year as a teacher, which I guess I find surprising because it doesn’t feel so long ago that I started. I have always been active in the teaching profession. In 2000 I finished my Masters Degree in Math Education. In 2004 I worked on and passed the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) which was a very rigorous yet rewarding process to judge my evolution as a teacher over the years. I must say, though, that while I love teaching middle school math in general and Algebra I in particular, I never planned for this to happen. I love how my professional career has developed over the years.