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  • Sonia Hamer

Carole Barnes: Breaking math down step-by-step

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

San Antonio teacher Carole Barnes strives to make math accessible for all of her students.

“I hated math,” said Carole Barnes, an 8th-grade math and algebra teacher at San Antonio’s Harmony School of Innovation. “I did terrible in it. In college, I actually had to take so many remedial math classes that I had enough credits for a math degree.”

According to Barnes, however, that’s when things changed. “I had a professor who actually made Algebra make sense,” she explained. “That really showed me what was possible.”

During school, Barnes studied to become an elementary reading teacher. However, after graduation the best offer she received was from a middle school in San Antonio teaching 7th-grade math.

“It was the hardest first year,” Barnes said. However, her new position gave her an opportunity to challenge herself and bring back many of the teaching techniques she learned from her college Algebra professor.

“I teach math like I’m teaching my past self,” she said. “I break it down step-by-step." "I also like to bring in the visual side of things. I try to draw pictures and make it concrete.”

Barnes said that she’s always felt a strong connection to more right-brained, artistic activities, like drawing. She said that she tries to show her students the connections between math and other disciplines, such as drawing and science, to make the concepts they’re covering more concrete.

In the end, Barnes says her goal is to help all of her students learn, including those who, like her younger self, struggle to feel confident when it comes to math class.

Photos courtesy of Carole Barnes

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