During my fourth visit to the math class I decided to ask Mrs. Austin about the other math teachers in the building. She mentioned that there were two other teachers, but they bum heads quite a lot with their teaching preferences and their scheduled material. One professor only focuses on worksheet after worksheet. He does not make any fun, hands on projects or assignments for the kids. He only focuses on grades as to what matters in the classroom and does not make math fun. He also focused on memorization and simply throwing information to the students expecting them to study it, know it, and get a good grade on the next test. When Mrs. Austin visited this classroom she was appalled. His teaching style and overall philosophy differed from hers greatly and it upset her. Mrs. Austin’s goal is to make math fun and to make it relative to the real world. She comes up with new ideas to incorporate into projects while trying to bring in hands on materials for her students.
These classes differ because one math teacher follows the “banking system” of the class while Mrs. Austin tries to go around the normality and introduce a liberatory education for both her and her children alike. According to Bell Hooks, liberatory education questions the norm of the educational system overall, and that is exactly what Mrs. Austin is trying to do. The only difficult aspect is still teaching the students to pass the PSSA. This testing is a typical “banking system” model for all educational systems, but Mrs. Austin is trying to apply the material to the real world, such as problem solving instead of just doing it for the test scores. In her eyes, grades show improvement and do not measure the success of a student and I appreciate that she always points this out to each of her classes while teaching.
Another teaching style that differs within the school is the use of review sessions within the classroom. Mrs. Austin uses these sessions with dry erase boards or with a worksheet to make sure that each student is on the same page with understanding the material. She does do it for a grade; she just wants to have the opportunity to help students that are doing small mistakes. These sessions allow Mrs. Austin to individually focus on students that are having trouble and it usually only takes a few minutes because the mistakes are always small and easily fixable. Since there is not much time out of the classroom to teach each student separately, these review sessions give Mrs. Austin a few one on one moments for students that are falling behind, while others work on the next set of problems listed on the board. Of course these review sessions do not take place every week, but they are usually assigned when Mrs. Austin teaches a lot of the material at once or she believes her class is not on the same page as others. After experiencing this in the classroom, I believe that Mrs. Austin truly tries to treat her students as individuals and to accommodate their different learning styles as students. Because Mrs. Austin knows that her students are different and they come from different backgrounds, so her review sessions are almost like a regrouping to help her students out.