Megan Hildabrand: The importance of reflection and collaborative strategies
Megan Hildabrand, an educator at Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, is always looking for new ways to enhance her students’ classroom experience. Constantly adapting her classroom content, Megan makes sure her students have what they need to thrive.
As far back as she can remember, Megan Hildabrand always had teaching at the back of her mind. She wanted a career that was going to have a positive impact on society and teaching math was just that. She's now in her eighth year of teaching and truly embraces her role as an educator.
Megan has always been a reflective person and is constantly taking notes in class, measuring and analyzing which strategies work, and which don't. Likewise, she's always thinking about ways she can improve and praised her school for the variety of professional development opportunities they offer. This month, Megan is set to embark on a course called ‘the modern classroom,’ which will explore how to encourage students to work at their own pace and establish their own learning pathways. Finding this to be a particularly interesting area of focus, she understands the importance of encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.
In the classroom, Megan has found that her students are especially responsive to collaborative strategies and said that getting students to work together really helps them to communicate with their peers and establish learning frameworks that work for them. She also likes to give students tasks where there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, which allows them to explore different aspects of math and make exciting and new observations. One example of a task like this is ‘notice and wonder,’ where students are given a picture or list of numbers to interpret. “It allows everyone to engage and explain what they see and ask whatever questions they have,” Megan said.
To show her students that she really engages with what they share with her, and how much she values their interactions, Megan also incorporates students’ interests in math problems. She takes a survey at the beginning of the year to learn more about them, and their likes and dislikes and then introduces math content that is relatable to them.
Megan outlined that she wears many hats as an educator and isn't simply a math teacher. She knows that often students don't have another adult they can confide in and relate to and makes it her mission to ensure her students feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts with her. “I just love forming those relationships with my students,” she said, “seeing their growth is always the best thing.”
Photos courtesy of Megan Hildabrand