[Numeracy 63] Re: Hello

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Steven Ewert Steven.Ewert at fresnounified.org
Mon Jan 25 18:11:39 EST 2010

My name is Steven Ewert and I teach at Fresno Adult School in Fresno, CA. I had submitted an introduction before, but I wanted to respond to Kathryn Baxter. My math experience from Grade school through High School was less than satisfactory. I took the minimum math classes to graduate, but it wasn't until my second year in college that I took a math class where things started to make sense. But I never followed up on it. After bouncing around in several different vocations, I ended up teaching. When I got my multiple-subject credential, I had already gotten a Masters in Language Development which incorporated techniques for teaching reading. I thought I would make a great reading teacher. My student teaching experience changed my perception of my strengths. The students in my 5-6 combo class thought I was a great math teacher. Upon reflection, I realized that I was able to identify with their struggles in math, and guide them to a better understanding of the concepts they struggled with. That empathy continues to today with the adults I am teaching and as I continue to learn. As a result, my students have been able to make quite significat gains in math because I often understand where they are coming from.

You bring a great asset of empathy to the classroom which will really encourage your students. Keep it up.

Steven Ewert
From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf Of Kathryn Baxter [kbaxinva at gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 9:40 AM
To: numeracy at nifl.gov
Subject: [Numeracy 47] Hello

Hello group! My name is Kathryn Baxter, and I have very little in common with most of you, but I am eager to find out more about your ideas for making Math less anxiety-producing. You see, I am a math phobic who teaches Math. Through a series of events (isn’t that just the way life goes?), I find myself, after 20+ years of teaching ESL and Remedial English in Community College and in High School, now a teacher of GED/ABE in a correctional facility in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (about 60 miles West and 50 years behind Washington DC).

As a high school drop out, I managed to avoid complicated math even as I got my GED, went to university and achieved BA and MA in various fields (Linguistics, Education, International HRD), and lived out my life into the mid 50’s where I now find myself. Math is something I have consciously eschewed except when forced into it – like doubling recipes and figuring out how much of a tip to leave. I get glassy eyed and slightly nauseated when it goes beyond that. However, here I am, in the jail, trying to be comforting and positive about the experience, leaning heavily on the skills of student/inmate tutors who, as it turns out feel rewarded by being chosen to help their math-deficient teacher.

Anyway, long story short, I am already learning that I am not alone in this math-anxious state, and secretly, I am beginning to feel the pleasure in working out problems and seeing that I am RIGHT! I think as an individual who has overcome obstacles in my past and achieved a measure of success, I can draw on those experiences and believe that I can do this too. So much of the struggle with my students comes from their inability to believe that they can do much of anything successfully. Little rewards along the way --quizzes you know they’ll ace, elementary computer programs that don’t look elementary that allow them to work out the problem alone and get the “green light” when they get it right – seem to help.

I am looking forward to learning from you~! Thanks for inviting me.

Kathryn Baxter
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