Welcome to “The Math Motivator”!

Vicki McGinn Math Motivator

“I strongly believe that it is important for me to continue to motivate and inspire others to love math as I came to do so later in life.” – Math Motivator

It is so hard to believe that I am a “newly retired Elementary Mathematics Special Assignment Teacher”. I truly mean it when I say that I have had the most fantastic career in education and despite this I am feeling at peace with my decision to retire. I am excited about new beginnings and taking the time to create something meaningful as a result of the inspiring work I have been involved in.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell

I want to share my passion for the teaching and learning of math with elementary educators, parents and students. Many educators in the elementary panel are more comfortable with literacy and less so with mathematics. Math is a subject that many people have had negative experiences with in their lives. As a student I had some negative experiences with this and yet as I retire from my role as numeracy facilitator for the ALCDSB, I continue to have a passion for the teaching and learning of mathematics. Prior to becoming the numeracy facilitator for the board, I was a classroom teacher for 11 years. It was through having my own classroom that I started investigating different ways to teach mathematics that impacted student engagement and thus their achievement. Through my numeracy facilitator role, I had the unique opportunity to be in many classrooms observing hundreds of students solve rich and engaging tasks. I always viewed every classroom encounter from a co-learning stance and these opportunities allowed me to gain insight into how students think mathematically. I always kept in mind that I was not there to “fix” anything or anyone, but through the students enable all of us to develop our own self-efficacy on behalf of the students entrusted in our care.

Mathematics is so important, not just in everyday life, but for many careers and future opportunities. I have proven through my work with classroom educators and students that math can be engaging. Engagement is critical for student success, but it is not the only factor. It is crucial for educators to know the math content behind the problems students are asked to solve. I do not believe that we need highly specialized math teachers in elementary, but we do need people who are willing to deepen their own math content knowledge and pedagogy along the way as I have, observe and really get to know their students, and develop a repertoire of strategies that will move student thinking forward. It is important to know that how we respond to students can affect their attitudes about math and thus their achievement. I always say that it is not about getting rid of everything that we have done, but to continue to tweak and refine our practices based on evidence-based research and the students in front of us. We would not want the medical profession to stay the same so why would we expect the educational system to.

I have learned so much through my extensive classroom experiences and my involvement in the most current Ontario Ministry of Education initiatives such as:

– Small and Northern Boards Numeracy Facilitator (SNB)
– Collaborative Inquiry for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (CIL-M)
– Systems Implementation and Monitoring (SIM)
– Literacy and Numeracy Leaders (LNS)
– Eastern Ontario Staff Development Network Math Project (EOSDN )

I strongly believe that it is important for me to continue to motivate and inspire others to love math as I came to do so later in life.

When you are inspired…dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. —Patanjali

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