Katie always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She was lucky enough to teach for 37 years across three provinces. She loved it all – yes even the marking and reporting!
Katie has a background in psychology and math and early on realized the importance of the connection between those two subjects. The fear of math was very real for many students and this fear interfered with their learning of basic concepts.
Her strong passion for math and inclusive education led her to develop and implement “Daily Math”. The program was designed to provide extra time and support for students so they could successfully achieve the Gr 8 and 9 math outcomes. It was aimed at students who in the past had received c- or less for their previous year’s final mark. The goal was for students to understand how all math concepts are related and connected and not just be seen as separate skills that students may or may not have mastered. Because the students had math everyday, they received an extra 100 hours of math support. All assignments and practice was done during class time where students received immediate feedback and help. This program resulted in significant reduction in students’ academic intervention and many students were able to stay on the traditional math track. This program and other activities such as Math Madness Week and teacher mentorship led to Katie being nominated and awarded the BCAMT 2016 Provincial Outstanding Teacher Award.
She recently retired after ending her career in Kamloops as the district’s K-9 Numeracy Resource Teacher. She continues to give workshops on all areas in math to many districts around the province.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
I loved learning in the Scarf building. Firstly, it was an easy distance to the legendary UBC cinnamon buns! It contained a wonderfully useful educational library with dedicated and helpful librarians. In the early ‘80’s there were few to no jobs in teaching. Myself and my fellow students were in the program because we knew we wanted to be teachers regardless of the economic situation. Those young student teachers became lifelong friends and people who I continue to admire,respect and consult both professionally and personally.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
I was fortunate to actually get a full time job the year I graduated. I was hired the day before school started to teach in Chetwynd, BC. During my teacher training program at UBC they had a wonderful elective for students who wanted to concentrate on elementary math education. It was an assortment of math methodology courses (basic operations, geometry and problem solving). These courses were invaluable to my career. They taught me that there are many ways to solve math and that problem solving is the reason why we actually teach math. The late Walter Szetela was an inspiring problem solving teacher. He installed a love of math in me that continues to this day. His belief in me gave me the encouragement to provide professional development for my district in my first year of teaching! This led to a career of providing professional development for teachers. The teachings I learned from those classes are still relevant in todays’ classrooms. There are not many classes that were taught 40 years ago that can carry that distinction.
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
My entire career has been devoted to helping students realize that anyone, anyone can be a competent math student. The Daily Math program was a testament to that philosophy. You do not need a “math gene” to understand the concept. Most learners just need time and patience, great strategies and a feeling of success to achieve a working knowledge of math. Math is necessary for all areas in life and for many professions the subject can act as a gateway to enter those vocations. I have met many adults who wanted to pursue a career only to be daunted by the math that was required to enter the program. Math is everywhere. We live in a mathematically driven world and the public school system must ensure that students have the basic tools and understanding to navigate this system.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
Teaching has been like a calling or hobby for me. My work never felt like a job. This profession allowed me to be creative everyday, play and interact with people from all areas of life. The best thing you can do as a new teacher is to find a teacher you admire and learn from them. Mine their head for ideas in pedagogy, class management, relationships etc. Model to your students that you are a lifelong learner, say sorry a lot, show them that you see them as people not just as students. Most of all remember that as a teacher you have so much power and influence over growing minds. Choose your words carefully- they can make or break the learning experience.