Ocie Lowery III: Honestly Answering “When Will I Ever Use This?”
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Ocie Lowery III of Theodore Roosevelt High School realized he wanted to teach halfway through his own high school career. He found fulfillment tutoring his classmates and teaching just came naturally to him.
Ocie Lowery III takes an original and experimental approach to professional development. “At this point in my journey, I invest a lot in things that aren’t all based in education,” he said. He not only stays current on new education research. He also loves to be pushed out of his comfort zone to improve as a STEM teacher.
Ocie uses an “I do, we do, you do” methodology in the classroom. It guides him when he uses discussion questions and problem-based learning in the classroom and it puts the focus on student reasoning. “A lot of the backbone of it is the students doing the math – the mathematical thinking,” he said. This approach allows Ocie to emphasize routines and protocols and it proves to his students that they truly are capable of doing math.
Ocie supports this problem-based learning with direct instruction. “Sometimes we don’t want to say that because we want students to do the learning,” he said. “However, finding those moments where you can bring in what we’re talking about is at the core of what they’re facing in their world.”
In his classroom, Ocie focuses on relationships of all sorts. These relationships can be “not just human to human, but also in the math,” he said. When students ask him the age-old “when will I ever use this” question, Ocie responds honestly and for good reason. “To honestly say, ‘for some of you, this will be the last time you talk about Pythagorean theorem,’ and being honest with students […] opens their ears to hear about the concepts and techniques we want them to walk away with,” he said.
Ocie knows not all his students may like math, but he hopes that they walk away with more knowledge and appreciation than when they started. Though his classroom may be the last time his students use some of these math skills, the underlying principles will be useful for a lifetime.
Photos courtesy of Ocie Lowery