Karen Peyton: Making math a multi-media medley
With a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics, you wouldn’t assume Karen Peyton of Hempstead Middle School would end up teaching. While mulling over a job offer in the food industry, Karen started substitute teaching. With some nudging from local principals who saw her talent, she went back to school to get her degree in curriculum instruction.
It’s ironic, since Karen Peyton wasn’t sure she wanted to go back to school in the first place, but she cites her master’s degree as an area of personal development. “It opened my eyes to a lot of research, articles, strategies, how to be creative” says Karen of her degree’s value. The learning didn’t stop there though – she continues to stay up to date on professional development both in person and online.
If you walk into Karen’s classroom, you’ll see an abundance of whiteboards. Her teaching strategy is anything but one-dimensional though. Karen’s classroom is a multi-media experience. “I use math songs, math videos, a lot of math rap songs,” says Karen. Inspired by some teacher friends on the west coast, she’s included more music and video in her classroom to aid students’ knowledge retention.
Students in Karen’s class aren’t allowed to zone out and just listen to the music though. Karen loves to test her students’ proficiency by having them explain concepts to each other. “My students are engaged, my classroom is a fun classroom – everyone is accepted,” says Karen of her teaching ideals. She makes math exciting and reinforces that everyone has the potential to learn it.
With the gap caused by Covid, a focus has been put on catching everyone up. Not everyone will take to math naturally and close the gap and Karen knows that. However, she meets her students at their ability levels and challenges them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. When she sums it up, Karen says “Teaching is my passion. I want to be an example to other teachers"