Valerie Steinhaus on believing all students can “do math” and instilling a growth mindset
Updated: Apr 14
Valerie Steinhaus, a teacher at Woodward Career Technical High School, calls herself a warm demander with high expectations. Openness and honesty are key features in her classroom, and she encourages students to do their best and set achievable goals.
Over the years, educator Valerie Steinhaus has held various roles, including working as a mental health case manager, a paraprofessional in an autism unit, a special education teacher, and a math teacher. This diverse professional background has equipped her with the tools required to meet the needs of diverse learners.
She hasn’t stopped learning either. For the last eight years, Valerie has worked in Cincinnati Public Schools teaching math and has always strived to further educate herself to ensure she's a well-rounded teacher, who can provide her students with the best resources. She has a master's in adolescent young adult education, another master's in multicultural special education, and recently received her principal license. On top of that, Valerie is currently working on obtaining her graduate certificate in math. She explained that all of her educational attainments mean she can give her students more options.
This is a key tenet of Valerie’s teaching style. She believes providing students with options is essential for effective learning. An example of this is Valerie’s partnership with Cincinnati State to teach quantitative reasoning to her students. She said this is a particularly beneficial skill as her students attend a technical school, and it helps them understand the practical applications of math.
Valerie has been department chair for the last seven years and is always working with her district to find better ways to support students. "It's important to not force students to all go down the same route with learning because they're all going to end up at different destinations," she said. Valerie also believes that every student is capable of doing math, but that each person just has a different way of learning. She calls herself a warm demander because she builds a safe classroom environment where students feel comfortable exploring math, debating, and asking questions, while also encouraging them to set the bar high and try their absolute best.
Believing in the power of openness and honesty, Valerie always asks her students whether they did their best on an assignment and pushes them to identify ways to improve. She also prioritizes data talks with them so they can see their progress and set achievable goals. "I try to instill in my students a growth mindset. We are all different and may learn at different paces but we can all learn and do math,” said Valerie.
Photos courtesy of Valerie Steinhaus