Morgan Babbel: Seeing math through a creative lens and embracing new ideas
Updated: May 3
In her classroom, Morgan Babbel, a teacher at Northfield High School, combines creativity, enthusiasm, and understanding to create a safe space where her students can be curious and thrive.
Educator Morgan Babbel is the true definition of a lifelong learner. With a math degree, an art degree, and a master’s in culturally and linguistically diverse education, Morgan joked that she’d be a career student if she could. Her love for learning wasn’t fully realized until slightly later in life though. She said that for her, learning has been a very personal process. When she was at school, Morgan explained that self-discovery and exploration weren’t really part of the curriculum, but now, in her own classroom, she makes sure that both are upheld. She facilitates this through creating a learning environment that feels safe and building a classroom community where students can talk openly and share their different perspectives on math.
Morgan described her classroom as a living entity that’s always changing and said that she ensures that she adapts her lesson plans to match this fluidity and keep the content relevant. Morgan said sometimes her classroom appears to be in a state of controlled chaos, but that it works on the basis of mutual respect, with her vibrant students showing their true selves and expressing themselves freely. “You have students who are conversing in different ways, and taking risks. I know their boundaries, and they know mine, and earning that trust is important.”
Always taking an innovative approach to teaching math, Morgan said there are many ways to approach math creatively, make patterns, and think abstractly. “I enjoy creating experiences that allow students to explore things freely, have open-ended conversations, and test their knowledge through both success and failure,” she explained.
Morgan also said that often math anxiety arises when students start to believe their thinking is wrong, so she always ensures she lets them know that her way isn’t necessarily the best way. To encourage students to think about different approaches to math, she frequently makes use of collaborative and flexible groups. “I want students to talk to each other about math and their ideas. It’s so important that they all know their thinking is valued and essential to mathematical growth and the kind of community we’re trying to build.”
Photo courtesy of Morgan Babbel