Okay, so I’m a little nervous posting here. I’m not a blogger, and I’m definitely not a writer, so please bear with me.
My name is Kate Whitters, and I work at a small but beautiful independent school in Rothesay, New Brunswick. I love reading, playing hockey (and really any sport), and my giant orange cat, Weasley. You may have guessed from his name that I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan. I’m currently teaching Grade 11 and 12 Math, and Grade 6 Science (quite a shift between age groups!). I’m relatively new to the profession, and am two months into my third year of teaching. I’m in awe of all my confident, professional, passionate and innovative colleagues at the school – I have a lot to learn and I am overjoyed to be a part of Cohort21 for this reason.
One of these amazing colleagues is Graham Vogt, a Cohort21 alumnus, who suggested I join this year. He has had nothing but amazing things to say about the program and its participants. I’m expecting to be pushed. One thing you should know is that I’m not overly confident in my abilities or methods. I question myself all the time. I take it to heart when my students aren’t successful. I worry about not being a “good enough” teacher. I worry that I spread myself too thin teaching, coaching, doing evening and weekend duty shifts, caring for my advisees, and trying to maintain some semblance of a life off-campus. I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up with the educational jargon and current research I know will be discussed during Cohort, be it at the Face 2 Face sessions or the edchats. HOWEVER, it’s not all negative. I’m excited to be better, I’m willing to take risks to improve my practice, and I’m looking forward to learning new things and really examining my practice.
I think much of my teaching anxiety stems from the fact that I teach math, and I teach it at the IB level. The struggle with math is that it seems to be seen as the “great divide.” Too often, the academic intelligence of students tends to be measured in terms of their mathematical abilities. In my limited experience, I’ve found that students who struggle with math tend to have a negative self-image across the board academically, regardless of strengths in other subjects. It’s really hard to reach these students who consistently struggle in math class. They’re frustrated, uncomfortable, and often uninterested in the subject matter. This is where I want my “shift” to occur. I want to find a way to reach those students who struggle. I really want to engage every student in the class. I just don’t know how yet. Hopefully some of you can help!