Katrina Elano: In education, patience is a virtue
Katrina Elano of Carlsbad Enrichment Center believes that the key to student success is patience, compassion and empathy. From her years in education, she has learned that if you just take the time to listen to students and give them the space to grow, they will shine.
Katrina Elano has been a teacher for the last twelve years, with ten of those years spent in the Philippines. However, she didn't envision a life as a math teacher in her youth. In fact, back then, she struggled with math, or at least she did until she encountered one particular inspirational teacher. "She made math so easy," said Katrina. From that point, her life trajectory changed. Now, she makes it her mission to impart to her students that everyone can learn and excel in mathematics.
When it comes to teaching her students math, Katrina explained that the first obstacle to overcome is students' negative mindset. "When they think 'math,' the first thing that comes to their mind is that it's complicated, so I tell them my story and that when I was their age, I really didn't like math," she said, adding, "I tell them that you don't give up!" One way in which Katrina boosts students' morale is by giving them a range of math problems at different levels of difficulty so that every student is able to achieve a right answer. She said that Kahoot is particularly effective for this, and through the platform, even when students attain one right answer, they still receive points.
Katrina also recognizes the importance of differentiation in the classroom when catering to diverse learning needs. She subsequently uses two curriculums and makes use of the school's flexible schedule, to provide students with additional learning needs with extra support. While some students are able to use enVision with minimal instruction, others require one-to-one guidance. Katrina said she also makes use of MathXL, finding it to be beneficial for quiz preparation because it gives students multiple chances to find the right answer.
Within the classroom, Katrina also encourages collaboration between students, and finds that pair work can be beneficial for a whole host of reasons. Not only does it teach them about cooperation, but it also builds confidence and social skills. Moreover, Katrina emphasized that when it comes to teaching, it's not just about the math, and it's her responsibility to provide her students with the tools they need to excel in life. "It may not be the x's and y's or the Pythagorean theorem, but instead, the values they learn when we do lessons together and work with one another," she said, adding: "Even if math is hard for them, at least they tried and got something out of it."
Katrina explained that her district often provides training for professional development, whether online or in person. She recently completed one of these training sessions on strong instruction within the classroom and learned more about building quality performance tasks for students.
Reflecting on her teaching career, Katrina said there have undoubtedly been challenging times, but she has always been pulled back to teaching. Likewise, with so many leaving the profession, she said there's never been a greater need for patient teachers in education, "Seeing students who are struggling helps set my mind and my heart that these students need me; they need a very patient teacher."