JN Maths Teacher of the Year looking for increased passes despite COVID-19Monday, March 08, 2021
For Mathematics Teacher of the Year Kelly Kellier Anderson and her students, the novel coronavirus pandemic has been a mixed bag.
“There is one set of my students who are doing very well. In fact, many of them are doing much better now that they are learning virtually than when they had face-to-face classes,” said Kellier Anderson who was named winner of the JN Bank-sponsored competition in December last year.
She was awarded $100,000, a winning trophy and a tablet device after beating 66 teachers who were nominated from across six regions.
The 15-year educator, who teaches grades 10 and 11 students at the Irwin High School in St James, credits her students' improvement in the subject to the enhanced access that has been created through virtual classes.
“Everything is now at their fingertips, once they have a computer and reliable Internet access, they are learning in much more comfortable environments. Some of them say they don't have anyone distracting them or talking to them when they are trying to learn or breaking their concentration. Therefore, for them, virtual learning is a blessing,” said Kellier Anderson.
She added that course materials for the online classes can also be accessed at any time over the Internet, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, which is also a plus.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case for all her students. “For those without reliable Internet access, consistent supervision and a comfortable learning environment, it has been a challenge,” she said. “And there are others who say, 'Miss we prefer to see you face-to-face'.
“For these students, we have to go the extra mile to keep them engaged. We have also tried to help some of them acquire tablets and we do our best to stay connected with them, so they do not fall by the wayside.”
Kellier Anderson noted that despite the challenges, she has been making the best of the situation and has been doubling down to inspire her students and to change their mindset about mathematics.
“COVID has not dampened my commitment to my students and my desire to see every one of them succeed,” she stated.
“While the pandemic has brought on a completely new way of life for all of us, I try to motivate them to think positively and to find the opportunities in this crisis,” she said.
Kellier Anderson said she has also been inspired to find more online activities for her students to participate in, as well as improved her use of virtual manipulatives or teaching tools to engage students in the hands-on learning of the subject.
“If every student had better access to computers and the Internet, virtual teaching would be the perfect mode of operating,” Kellier Anderson said.
She noted that a part of her overall goal is not only to get her students ready to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exam, but to also help to change their mindset when it comes to mathematics.
“I want them to understand the importance of the subject and to apply it to their daily lives. I want them to understand its relevance and how it can help them to reason better and to make better life decisions.
“Therefore, any topic I'm teaching I try to use real-life examples to bring the lesson across. For example, the other day I was teaching matrices and I try to show them how it can be related to the game of basketball and immediately you can see the change in their attitude.”
Kellier Anderson also practices the five E's of teaching to plan her lessons – Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate.
“I try to ensure that all my lessons follow this principle. Therefore, I don't just jump in the lesson and start writing activities. We try to have conversations with the students to help them understand what they are learning, and why.
“I also have them explain and explore the deeper connections of the lesson. I allow them to discover on their own, instead of me telling them what they must see. I am just the facilitator, who allows them to discover and explore the subject material,” she outlined.
Though teaching wasn't her first choice, Kellier Anderson believes she was called to the profession.
“The same way some people are called to preach, I believe I was called to teach. It is my passion,” she said.
A part of her goal too is to improve her students' passes in the subject this year.
“Last year over 70 per cent of my students received passes. I'm not sure what this year will bring but I am certainly working hard and the students are dedicated, so we are hoping for the best.”
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