Gabrial Bernard: The “why” behind math
Updated: Apr 14
Gabrial Bernard of the Harmony School of Science went to college with no plans of being a teacher. However, when looking for a part-time job on campus, one of the only openings was in an early childhood education classroom. Within a month, she knew she never wanted to do anything else.
A business major in college, Gabrial Bernard found her calling along the way. Once she graduated, she went into teaching and never looked back. Now, she focuses on constant learning through professional development and collaboration with other teachers. “I’m always looking for seminars and things like that,” said Gabrial. “I attend them during my personal time to grow my skills and help my students grow.” She constantly analyzes and reflects on her teaching style to make sure her classroom is the best it can be.
Now that Harmony School has gone from self-contained to departmentalized classrooms, Gabrial has found her students’ needs changing. While she previously taught all of third grade, with the change, Gabrial now teaches math exclusively. She finds the biggest math challenge her third graders run into is word problems. To combat this, she focuses on explaining the “why” of the problems to her students. “It helps students to really break down and understand the ‘why’ of what they’re doing so they can make the connection between ‘what am I doing’ and ‘why am I doing this?’” said Gabrial of her students’ needs. In her classroom, she emphasizes attention to detail and critical thinking.
Gabrial’s classroom isn’t just focused on the technical aspects. She also focuses on her classroom management. “Good routines and good systems. That all plays a major role,” Gabrial emphasized. Though she’s constantly analyzing data and what works best, Gabrial always sees her students as individuals and knows every student has unique needs. “It challenges me to constantly figure out the unique needs of my students,” she said.
With 65 students over three classrooms, Gabrial deftly handles the task of 65 sets of individual needs in the math classroom. With a Teacher of the Year award for 2021, it’s clear that what Gabrial is doing is working.
Photo courtesy of Gabrial Bernard