Grant Kreegel: Promoting a positive math identity
Updated: Apr 14
Grant Kreegel of San Antonio's The Gathering Place, much like his school, likes to do things differently. Believing that students come to class with their own inner brilliance, he nurtures their natural curiosity and creates an innovative learning environment that goes against the grain.
Grant Kreegel opened himself up to the field of education through a grant program in his senior year at college, which saw him work with the IDRA, an educational equity advocacy organization. It was there he realized education could be a path towards equity and breaking down barriers. Having started out as a language teacher, he taught kindergarten and high school before joining The Gathering Place in 2019, where he really found a home and now works in special education.
The Gathering Place is a project-based school that embraces hands-on learning and encourages students to think deeply and critically about the subjects they are being taught. Grant says his favorite part about how the school teaches math is that it emphasizes that math can be the ground for interesting conversations and that it explores conceptual mathematics. A great example Grant gave of this is an activity called 'Two Brains, One Marker’. Grant says this activity not only helps students demonstrate their understanding, but allows him to spot any knowledge gaps, too and identify whether a student is drawing from tricks or algorithms, which as a school, is something they steer students away from. Grant also outlined that getting to the right answer isn't always the most important part in class. "We celebrate when students make connections with complex concepts," he said.
Grant believes that the relationships he builds up with his students are integral for their growth and learning. "I believe you can't learn from a teacher you don't like, so I try to make emotional connections with the students.” Grant is aware that as a teacher, he is often the first port of call for students in crisis, and a central focus of his role as an educator is to help students navigate emotional challenges and traumas.
At The Gathering Place, educators are encouraged to incorporate different disciplines when teaching and also are invited to bring in their outside talents. Subsequently, Grant likes to use the lens of music and rhythm to discuss numeracy. "There are lots of beautiful opportunities to make learning a full sensory experience," said Grant.
When speaking about teaching, Grant called it a vocation and noted the incredible, deep joy of being able to help students when they're at their most vulnerable and support them when they flourish, too.
Photo courtesy of Grant Kreegel