Brianna Haro: Creating new learning pathways for understanding math
Brianna Haro at the Durham Performance Learning Center is an educator who always finds new ways to ignite a passion for math in her students. By incorporating art, history, or English in her lessons, she teaches her students that math is all about being inquisitive and encourages them to follow their gut instincts.
The path to becoming a math teacher wasn't a conventional one for Brianna Haro; she started college as an art major and maintained math classes just for fun. However, following a tough period in college, where she considered dropping out, her math teacher encouraged her to take a second look at math, which opened up a whole new chapter in her life. Now in her sixth year of teaching, Brianna's math classroom is a dynamic one that combines history, art, and English. It is all about finding connections and looking at the bigger picture.
To do this, Brianna always tries to get her students to think more broadly about math by finding real-world examples of math applications wherever she can. If they're discussing a TV show that uses CGI, for example, she'll explain where the math comes in. Although it can sometimes be challenging to find time for practical work, Brianna loves to incorporate hands-on activities too, whether that’s using math to make popcorn boxes, or working out the distance between stars using the technology available to her students on their phones.
"It's not so much teaching them a passion for math, but teaching them that math is a part of them, it's in their soul, and their ancestry," said Brianna while talking about her teaching philosophy. Brianna explained that having studied the history of mathematics extensively, she’s able to illustrate to students how math is everywhere and in everything. Likewise, she doesn't place too much emphasis on getting the 'right answer' and instead encourages students to be inquisitive and solve problems without just memorizing formulas. By encouraging students to go with their gut, she hopes to embolden them and encourage a curious mindset.
Brianna also always has her finger on the pulse regarding training and professional development. She’s constantly looking for new material to read and podcasts to listen to so that she can evolve as an educator and bring new approaches into the classroom. Ultimately, Brianna strives to help students find ways to solve problems that make sense to them and she values and celebrates her students' individuality and differences.
Photos courtesy of Brianna Haro