Katy Williams: Keeping students engaged and making math meaningful
Updated: Apr 14
Now in her 11th year of teaching, Katy Williams of Hallsville Junior High always knew she would become an educator. Each day she finds new ways to relate to her students and creates activities that will keep them engaged and receptive to learning.
Over the years, educator Katy Williams has taught in a number of different grades and in intervention, and through her experience has learned that it is essential to find ways to connect with students. This, she says, is how you truly reach them. "It's not just about engaging with them academically, but finding out what their interests are, too," said Katy. Likewise, she makes sure to employ a wide range of activities in the classroom to cater to students' interests and different learning needs. Specifically, she finds hands-on learning to be particularly effective, helping her to make math meaningful for her students. One example Katy gave of this was her use of M&M's to teach probability. "I like to keep them busy and engaged," she said.
While Katy puts a great emphasis on stimulating her students, she also understands the importance of setting time aside for breaks and uses what she calls ‘Brain Breaks’ to get the students moving. 'Silent ball' is one of her ‘Brain Break’ activities which sees students sit in a circle and throw a ball to each other. She finds once students have had a break, they're more receptive to learning.
Katy is always looking to learn new things and fully embraces her Professional Learning Community (PLC), which she says, allows teachers to bounce ideas off each other, share lesson plans, and gain inspiration. Katy also always has her finger on the pulse when it comes to technology and new resources to ensure her students have access to anything that will enhance their learning.
Believing fully in the power of building up her students' confidence, Katy makes sure to praise all accomplishments, big and small. She says that witnessing a student jump from a mark of 30 to 50 can be more exciting than seeing a student achieve a 90 every time they test. This, she says, is because it shows that students are working hard and making progress. "I think it's important not to focus on the numbers," said Katy. "As teachers, especially with all these knowledge gaps that have arisen during the pandemic, it's easy to beat ourselves up, but focusing on the small accomplishments and celebrating those wins perhaps matters the most."
Photo courtesy of Katy Williams