The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Posts tagged ‘Freedom of Expression’

x + students = culture of learning (Find x)

What are the building blocks to a classroom community and culture of learners?

One key foundational block in the structure of a culture of learners is to make the classroom a place where students trust the teacher and believe it’s a safe place to take risks. In doing this, the classroom becomes learner centered (core competency L1). By creating a safe place, a teacher can foster and encourage a student’s self esteem, their confidence in the subject matter, and their willingness to grow as a learner.

As a teacher, I will establish my classroom to be a safe place where respect and trust is mutual between my students and I. One of the ways I will do this is by getting to know my students individually. I will conduct a class survey at the beginning of the year to determine some of their interests. I will maintain regular individual conversations with them through quarterly letter writing. In addition, I will also share about my interests and likes/dislikes in math so as to relate to them at a more personal level. Finally, all questions will be valued in my class. There will be no such thing as a “bad question” so long as it is classroom appropriate.

The challenges of creating this safe culture for learning will be many. With so many students, it will take effort to get to know them all and ensure they know they are valued members of our classroom community. However, as long as a constant effort is being made to respect my students, I feel they will be able to help in creating a place where learning can take place.

Questions to consider: Is a book club actually a helpful strategy to use in a math class?  What kind of jobs could I create that are more than just “classroom chores” in my math class?


America’s Teachers, Chapter 5

This post is a reflective on assigned questions from Joseph W. Newman’s America’s Teachers: An Introduction to Education, Chapter 5.

Present a short argument for, and then, against the fact that teachers get tenured.


Teachers should have security in their job. Tenure protects experienced teachers from getting fired on the whim of their superiors. Teachers who have completed three years of teaching are given tenure, which requires school boards to prove that the teacher is unfit to continue their job before terminating their employment. This stabilizes teachers, and gives them the right to keep their jobs unless proven guilty of incompetence, insubordination, or immorality (Newman 2006).


Tenure often protects bad teachers. The status of tenure makes it difficult to fire teachers who do not teach at a high standard. Tenure gives teachers the ability to take school boards to court, costing schools to pour finances into court cases. As a result, teachers that have a low performance, but maintain tenure status, are often passed from school to school instead of being dismissed (Newman 2006). In this way, tenure is a hindrance to excellence in education.

What can cause a teacher to be liable for a students’ injury?

Teachers can be held liable for a student’s injury if the following four statements can be proven:

1. The teacher had a duty to be careful not to injure the student and to protect the student from being injured.

2. The teacher failed to use due care.

3. The teacher’s carelessness caused the injury.

4. The student sustained provable damages.

Note: These statements quoted directly from America’s Teachers, by Newman, pg. 157.

What are the limits of freedom of expression for teachers?

The freedom of expression for teachers can be viewed from several topics discussed in “America’s Teachers”. These topics include: academic freedom, right of public dissent, appearance while teaching, political activities, and lifestyle. All categories have seem to have one overall governing theme: the limitations set on teachers depends on how their expressions affect the classroom and academic learning of the students. Academic freedoms such as choosing controversial books or topics of discussion are limited, but these limitations vary from state to state. Often academic freedom will depend on the ruling of whether or not the discussion or book is age appropriate and handled in a non-disruptive manner. A teacher’s right to public dissent lies with the content of their voiced dissention. For instance, a teacher may voice an opinion regarding any issue that is of public concern, but not an issue that is heavily focused on the individual teacher. A teacher’s expression of appearance is limited to a more professional standard due to the fact that all teachers represent role models to their students and are called to “promote positive educational experiences” (Newman 2006). Finally, teachers are not limited in their own personal lifestyle such as living arrangements or sexual orientation so long as it does not affect the progression of learning in the classroom.

What is your personal position on teaching about sexual orientation?

Personally, the discussion on teaching about sexual orientation is a new consideration for me. So far, I have come to conclude that I hold all students to be created in the image of God, and thereby will treat all students equally and positively. As to teaching about sexual orientation, my role as a math teacher will most likely be a minor one. However, my position on teaching about sexual orientation is that teachers should give students truth. This truth should include the fact that homosexuality has been shown not to be a mental disease, that often HIV AIDS is contracted through homosexual men, and that using differing sexual orientations as grounds for bullying is wrong. It is my opinion that 6th grade students and above should be given some sort of introduction to sexual orientation from a purely informational standpoint. Once a student reaches the high school level, further information may be given. It is also my opinion that explicit details as to sexual activity be given with extreme caution, and by no means in an “encouraging” manner, but purely scientific. Concluding this topic, I believe that students, especially those in private Christian schools, should be encouraged, not in tolerance, but in love for humanity.

List 3 physical indicators and 3 behavioral indicators that you are very LIKELY to see (or have actually seen at some point) that would lead (or have led) you to suspect either physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Three physical indicators that would lead me to suspect abuse are:

  • Bruises, welts, cuts, or burns

Three behavioral indicators of abuse are:

  • Fear of going home, Habit disorders (biting, sucking, or rocking), and suicide attempts.



Newman, J.W. (2006). America’s teachers: an introduction to education. White Plains, N.Y.: Allyn & Bacon.