There are three of us in the cohort, all teaching pre-calculus or calculus. Pete Wildman teaches at a community college while Terra Davidson and Linda Carney teach at large comprehensive public high schools. The community college has a mix of students who are traditional students right out of high school, non traditional students who have been out of school for some time and high school students who enroll in the community college by choice. Nearly all students at the community college come from a lower socio-economic background and most have to balance work and school. All the pre-calculus and calculus at both the high school and the college level contain between 20 and 35 students. Each class is made up of students with a diverse skill set and conceptual base.
Linda Carney: I have been teaching mathematics at Shadle Park High School for 34 years. In recent years I’ve taught everything from Algebra Lab to Calculus BC. My philosophy of teaching is simply that in order for deep learning to occur an environment has to be created where students see class as more than just a place to learn mathematical content. They are also learning about problem solving, perseverance, responsibility, and what it means to give their best effort. I try to help students see that together we form a team, a mathematical community, where we are all going to be learning together.
This is the first time I’ve participated in a project of this depth involving teachers spanning from high school through the university level – what has been interesting is looking at our problem of practice and seeing the similar challenges at all levels.
Terra Davidson: For the past 17 years, I have been teaching high school mathematics at West Valley High School (2000-2009), and Mt. Spokane High School (2009-current). I have taught all subjects from Algebra 1 through Calculus AB. I have been involved with other projects over the years including the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Project (RAMP), and the Transition Mathematics Project (TMP) in which I worked with others to discuss improving mathematics education and bridging the gap from high school to college for students. I am dedicated to improve the teaching and learning that occurs in my classroom and creating a collaborative environment where students are comfortable sharing their thinking about mathematics. I have enjoyed working on this project with other high school teachers and college professors in the area and found it interesting that we shared some of the same challenges with students’ ability to retain concepts and skills from one math course to the next.
Pete Wildman: I have been teaching mathematics at the high school, university and community college level for 35 years. I have always been very interested in transitions from high school mathematics to college mathematics. I have participated in several statewide and local projects that focus on seamless transitions from high school to college. However, one feature of this project that was particularly helpful to me was the opportunity to visit the high school classroom. I really saw during my visit in Terra’s classroom that our students seem to struggle with the same issues. I know that often the problem of transference of knowledge in mathematics is attributed to “poor preparation” of high school students or “lower expectations in high school than in college”. Through my observations, I was given ample evidence that this was not the case. I became more convinced that the issue of lack of transference of knowledge from pre-calculus to calculus had to have a deeper and more complex cause. This project has enriched my teaching my providing me with ways to look at students understanding at a deeper level which is often challenging in the fast-paced college classroom.