Kristin Porter: Teaching an appreciation for math
Kristin Porter of Harmony School of Innovation didn’t always dream of being a teacher. In fact, for a time, she wanted to become a detective. Clearly, after some investigation, she found her calling the classroom! Drawing on memories of her high school math teacher and her own love of math, teaching was the only thing that made sense.
If there’s one way to sum up Kristin Porter’s teaching philosophy, it’s that she embraces a growth mindset. “I’ll take any opportunity that’s given to me. I take it seriously and try to learn from it,” Kristin said. She does her best to learn what she can in any meeting, never allowing herself to check out or be bored. She’s constantly learning and innovating. “I taught myself how to code,” Kristin said, “so I use that skill to make stuff for class.”
Kristin is a believer in allowing her students to make choices. “Even if it’s as silly as letting kids pick a number for a problem, they’re more invested in something they created,” she said.
Kristin also encourages group work where her students have to talk to each other and solve problems together. While group work hasn’t been as prevalent the last couple of years, Kristin does her best to create group work environments where math problems are geared “more towards the things [the students] like,” to keep them engaged.
In her classroom, Kristin nurtures an approachable environment. “Feedback I often get is that even if a student, at the end of the year, feels they don’t understand the math fully, they have an appreciation of it,” she said.
The overall ethos of her classroom is approachable and that allows students to feel vulnerable and try new things. Kristin understands that not every student will take to math immediately, but she hopes that they have an appreciation for the subject and newfound confidence in themselves by the end of the year.