Traci Schmidt: Bringing Liberal Arts Practices into the Math Classroom
When needing a summer job took Traci into a classroom as a substitute, she realized that was where she was supposed to be. A reading teacher for more than a decade, Traci took the plunge and decided it was time to teach math. With her unique approach from her 11 years in a reading classroom, she truly brings a unique approach to teaching mathematics.
Traci Schmidt originally planned to be a counselor. It was only when she took a position as a substitute that she chose to break from her original plan. Studying psychology in college, Traci became alternatively certified and headed into the classroom to teach reading. Never one to back down from a challenge, Traci wanted to push herself out of her comfort zone and try teaching math. “I see the teachers across the hallway, I watch what’s going on...In my heart of hearts I think I’ve been watching and waiting patiently for my time” Traci said with a laugh.
Traci likes to keep things fresh in her classroom, transforming the room at least once a year if not twice. She sees the value in project-based learning, both in class and take-home projects for her third graders.
Traci wants her classroom to feel like home for her students. “I don’t have assigned seating,” Traci says, “I have assigned areas but not assigned seating.” She gives her students the flexibility to work in ways that are most beneficial for them. If they want to sit, stand, or even lay down, they have the flexibility to do that so long as they’re in their areas and staying engaged. “I let their day affect how they choose to work…each day can look different than the next,” says Traci.
Traci’s flexibility doesn’t mean that she allows just anything in her classroom. She gives her students the freedom to work in the ways that are best for them but is also willing to remove privileges if necessary. With her background as a reading teacher, Traci engages her students in a unique way that allows them to approach math in a fun, empowered way.