Meeting students at their level and prioritizing mental health
Micayla Gooden fell in love with math at high school and returned to AM Consolidated to begin her own teaching career. There, she takes challenges in stride and gives her students the space they need to grow.
Micayla Gooden's passion for math first began in high school with an inspirational teacher of her own, pushing her to pursue the subject. She went on to study a math and science education degree and then returned to AM Consolidated, where her interest was first nurtured, as an educator, to bring the joy of math to a new set of students.
For Micayla, when it comes to teaching, building and maintaining relationships is of utmost importance. "Relationships start from day one. Nowadays, kids are big on respect," she said. "Building relationships with them helps me to be a better teacher. If I'm able to connect with a student, they will be more willing to work hard." To ensure her foundations are strong from the beginning, Micayla starts the year with icebreaker activities and seeks to learn about her students as individuals beyond their math abilities.
In the classroom, Micayla uses peer-led teaching to help students consolidate their math learning and establish one-on-one time for struggling students. Moreover, when the challenges of Covid came, Micayla and her department ensured they were equipped. "Planning ahead of time was really important. I found that if I set up Zoom and let the students see me virtually, they were more likely to engage."
Micayla admits that the pandemic has created knowledge gaps, and as a teacher, it feels like she, and the students, are having to play catch up. That said, recognizing the pressure this places on students, she makes sure mental health check-ins are a priority. "It's important they know we care about them as a whole, and not just their grades."
Witnessing those 'ah-ha' moments and seeing the growth of students is what makes the job worth it for Micayla, and she emphasizes that it's important to give students space and not mount on the pressure, especially when life is already so stressful.