Amanda Thomas: Meeting her students halfway
Amanda Thomas of Del Rio Learning Center wanted to work with children, but teaching wasn’t always in the plans. Originally interested in child development, Amanda realized teaching was her calling after she worked as a tutor to make extra money during college.
“I loved having that ‘aha’ moment with kids.” That phrase alone could sum up Amanda Thomas’s teaching philosophy. With her background in child development, a relationship-based classroom was a natural next step. She isn’t only interested in what’s going on in the minds of her students though. Interested in staying up on curriculum, Amanda tries to stay abreast of current math teaching strategies and what works for her peers.
With a background in child development, it makes sense that Amanda is interested “more in the student processes of discovering how math works.” With that in mind, Amanda goes out of her way to make sure she knows what her students are interested in and brings those things into the classroom. “I try to gamify it,” Amanda says. While trends come and go quickly, Amanda does her best to engage with what her students are interested in (often through TikTok), making math engaging by relating it to what her students already pay attention to.
Amanda speaks highly of her students and says she focuses on fostering positive relationships with her classes. “They’re so ready to be back in the classroom and engaged.” Amanda says she feels that her class “meets [her] halfway” and is engaged enough to allow her to help them as best she can. A big believer in “math chats,” she gives students access to how they’re progressing and why what they’re doing is applicable and useful. Amanda didn’t feel like her teachers had good answers when she asked the questions her students are asking. By reinforcing that math is necessary for all walks of life whether college, trade school, or the work force, she prevents her students from dismissing the importance of their classroom learning and holds their focus.