# Transformational teaching: alumni educators share their equations for success.

**Author: Lona** | Image: Lona

**Author: Lona** | Image: Lona

Mathematics ‘15

Neftali is in his second year of teaching at Muscatine High School, Iowa, where he teaches Algebra I and Geometry.

**What I learned at Iowa State:**

“I learned to love what I do and to understand that my job is very important, even though it is not expressed to us teachers on a daily basis.”

**Favorite classroom strategies:**

“We are currently using Best Practices as a department. We are encouraging big time participation in class and thought-producing conversations among students. We have a procedure called ‘Listen and Compare’ where students have to follow certain steps in order to be able to talk to their partners, their partners talk to them and at the end share with the class. This method involves students in the class, and it is a quick way to informally assess students.”

**Favorite math moment last school year:**

“My favorite moment so far was last year during Pi day. Kids were able to draw numbers in paper plates and paste them on the wall creating the number Pi as long as we could. Students had fun and it was an activity that took the stress and the focus away from doing “math problems” but at the same time increased their mathematical awareness.”

**Most rewarding part of math education:**

“Helping the kids that come in the first day of school thinking they are going to fail the class and seeing that by the end of the year their mind set has changed and their trust in their math skills has increased greatly.”

**Math matters because . . .**

“It is a universal language and an art that we must continue to explore and teach.”

—

Master’s in School

Mathematics, ‘96

Leigh teaches AP Statistics, Pre-Calculus, Calculus and Honors Geometry and serves as the math department chair at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has taught for 23 years at the middle school, high school and community college level.

**What I learned at Iowa State:**

”Several of the content courses required us to see the big picture and make connections between ideas. The connected nature of mathematics continues to be an important component of my teaching.”

**Favorite classroom strategies:**

“This year I began to use Kahoot to review content. This online tool has students compete to answer multiple choice questions and I often put a ‘random question of the day’ at the end of the activity. These questions included things like ‘Which mathematician would be 200 years old today?’ and ‘What was Mrs. Nataro’s first quiz grade in a college math class?’ Desmos is another wonderful teaching tool. It is a free online graphing calculator that works across multiple platforms. Activity builder lessons in Desmos can be used to have students test conjectures and explore content at their own pace. I recommend going to teacher.desmos.com to see lessons that range from pre-algebra to calculus. Finally, I recommend the software Fathom and the online tool StatKey for work in AP Statistics.”

**Favorite math moment from last school year:**

“I love it when students are genuinely engaged in learning mathematics. For example, this past year one student was working on solving problems involving exponential functions using a Marbleslides activity in Desmos. The bell rang and the school day was over, but the student stuck around for another five minutes or so to finish the activity, even though it wasn’t required.”

**Most rewarding part of math education:**

“First, I love to help students realize that they can be successful in mathematics. Second, I love it when students show me other ways to solve problems that I hadn’t considered; they see me not only as their teacher, but as a student of mathematics. Third, I love that the math education community is collaborative. Sharing ideas with other teachers at conferences and through online groups, like The Global Math Department, has helped me to continue to learn and grow as a teacher.”

**Math matters because . . . **

“It is ubiquitous. Understanding mathematics, especially probability and statistics, is needed in our data-driven world.”

—

Master’s in School Mathematics, ‘06

Brian teaches mathematics and computer science at Central Academy in Des Moines, Iowa, and has taught for 19 years at the middle school and secondary level.

**What I learned at Iowa State:**

“The MSM program opened up my eyes as to how mathematics could be taught as a more student-centered endeavor. I also gained an appreciation of how professional mathematicians work.”

**Favorite classroom strategies: **

“I believe that my job as a mathematics instructor is to enable students to engage with the mathematics as much as possible. Therefore, my goal for every lesson is for students to spend time doing mathematics. I think it is also important to facilitate students in talking about mathematics.”

**Favorite math moment last school year: **

“I ask my students who are in my Geometry class to write a letter to their senior selves at the end of the year. As I read their responses I came across a student who thanked me for ‘making geometry make sense.’ This is the highest compliment that a student can pay me.”

**Most rewarding part of math education:**

“Watching students grow as mathematicians. When a student discovers something that I haven’t thought about or looks at a problem in a unique way, I get very excited.”

**Math matters because . . . **

“It teaches us a way of thinking. It develops a creativity that will serve us well. Plus, it’s just pretty cool.”