Kudos to Aurora Martinez (Denver, '14). She is serving as a Denver Math Fellow at Swansea Elementary School.
Why did you choose this program?
AURORA: I chose Denver Math Fellows because I understand that math is a difficult subject for many students, and many do not have the support they need to succeed in math. When I was a student, I had difficulties with math and, like many students of color, was not able to get tutoring. I read about the program and realized it gave me an opportunity to make a difference in education. As a math fellow, I have support from the group of fellows at my school and from a DMF coordinator who helps us with the curriculum. Through the program, I have the opportunity to learn more about teaching residencies in Denver.
Why have you decided to teach?
AURORA: Teaching was always something I was unsure about. My friends and family told me I would be good at teaching, but I didn’t give it much thought until I joined Generation Teach. I loved teaching at GT- it was hard work but also an incredible experience. After my GT summer, I worked other jobs and quickly realized that nothing is more rewarding than seeing students learn and grow. Teaching is something I am passionate about, and I am excited to be on this amazing journey.
What subject(s) and grade(s) are you teaching?
AURORA: As a Denver Math Fellow (DMF) and in collaboration with four other fellows, I lead small group math instruction to fourth and fifth graders. We provide highly structured math intervention as part of the school day, and we build individualized lesson plans to help fill academic gaps and support grade level instruction.
What are you most excited about?
AURORA: I am most excited about seeing the differences we are making in the students' understanding of math.
What is your favorite memory from the summer?
AURORA: It is difficult to choose just one memory from Generation Teach. I gained so much from the experience, and I loved that summer. My best memories are of my students - the laughs we had and the growth we achieved. Generation Teach gave me a new perspective on teaching and the chance to make a difference for my students that summer.
What did you learn from the job process? Do you have any advice for others who may be entering the classroom soon?
AURORA: The job process is very competitive. Schools are looking at your content-knowledge, how well you teach, your fit for the position and school, and how you interact with students. After applying to Denver Math Fellows, I completed a 20-minute phone interview, where we discussed why I was interested in the position, why the position was important, and how I see myself as a math fellow. I then took a math test that covered a wide range of math skills, from elementary school through ninth grade. Finally, I taught an in-person mock lesson with a student and interviewed with my coordinator. I submitted background and reference checks before I was hired as a math fellow.
Do you have any advice for your TF colleagues?
AURORA: Patience is key. Whether it is with applications, students, or other coworkers, you need to be patient. There is a lot going on in education and you might not understand or like everything that comes your way. You may not know the bigger picture that in the end will help your students. I would also advise other GT alumni going into the classroom to have fun teaching. There are often many ways to teach a specific concept, and varying strategies can keep students involved and engaged. Also, use your resources. I have learned from other teachers, books, and videos. Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov has great advice and examples of what to do in the classroom.