Math can sometimes get a bad rap, but Mint Hill Middle School math teacher Victoria Rhodes wants students to know there’s nothing to fear.
The seventh-grade teacher has been teaching math for five years. Despite new faces each year, she finds there’s one thing that doesn’t change no matter the group …
“Each year I find that many of my students have anxieties when it comes to numbers,” Rhodes said.
However, she has found that when she approaches the beginning of the school year with a family-like atmosphere, it tends to ease the worries. So, she looks to gain the trust of her students early on, even when that means learning nearly 90 new names within a few days.
“When I teach, the students aren’t lined up in rows with me in front of the classroom. We’re usually in groups so we can sit and discuss math solutions together. I want it to be comfortable for them,” Rhodes said.
Although she wants to take the pressure off learning math, Rhodes knows that at the end of the year students must take End-of-Grade (EOG) assessments and her students need to be fully prepared. To get ready for test time, she does a lot of informal assessing. It is her solution to help students get over the hump that causes math phobias.
“I’m not always calling on the student who has his hand up. I’m looking for that student who isn’t engaged and doesn’t want me to call on him,” said Rhodes. “That student is the student I’m going to guide to an answer. That is what builds the confidence in him to want to excel.”
“My students know that my assessments are hard, so when you do well in my class you are going to succeed on the EOGs.”
Brooke Canter is a rising sophomore at Independence High School; she had Rhodes as an honors math teacher when she was in the seventh grade. Several years later, she continues to visit Rhodes and helps her set up her classroom for the school year.
“I used to struggle in math, but Ms. Rhodes helped me grasp the concept of math. Now, it is one of my favorite subjects,” said Brooke.
Julia Margiotti, a rising freshman at Independence, said Rhodes shined a light on learning math. It was always one of her least favorite subjects, she said, but ever since Rhodes taught math in a “fun way” – it became one of her favorite classes.
“I always thought math was too hard and I was afraid to ask questions,” said Julia. “Ms. Rhodes won’t let you give up on yourself that easily. She is always pushing you to try harder.”
Perhaps for Rhodes, her knack for teaching was hereditary. Her maternal grandmother was a language arts teacher, her paternal grandmother was a math teacher, her sister was an elementary school teacher and her brother was a high school math teacher.
“I just love teaching,” she said. “I don’t want to leave the classroom.”