Upper School Math Teacher
Know Your Pelicans
What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum?
I teach Upper School math. My favorite moments aren’t usually tied to a topic, but that feeling that builds up in a class when students have discovered something mathematically surprising and they are getting closer and closer to figuring out why. When the room is simply vibrating with mathematical ideas and excitement, and students are getting more and more noisy, and the volume is rising like a crescendo. Those are times I treasure.
Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding.
In one of my classes last year, a group figured something they were struggling with out, and they created a new handshake that involved all three group members putting their hands up into a vertical plane, having their fingertips touch (so they were forming 120 degree angles with each other), and they curled their fingers together and stuck their thumbs up. They were celebrating figuring something out. I put a lot of value in groups learning to work positively with each other. I treasure moments like these. In fact, I was so enthralled by this idea of groups celebrating successes with handshakes that I had all my groups create their own unique handshakes to use throughout the year.
Besides your subject, what’s something you hope to teach your students?
I know many adults see math as cold and sterile and formulaic. Besides understanding the content, I think a lot about how to help my students find the joy, beauty, and creativity in math. #mathjoy
What is your favorite space on campus and why?
I love my office. From twirling around in my chair while listening to the Sound of Music, to meeting with students one-on-one, to using other math teachers as sounding boards for things happening in my class, my office is the happiest of places.
Mr. Shah is the author of the popular math-education blog Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere and will be a featured speaker at the 2019 annual conference of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education.