Educator Spotlight: Libardo Valencia
Meet Libardo Valencia
What grades do you teach and/or what is your title/role? What school, district or institution do you work for? What location?
I work as a mathematics teacher at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. I also work as an adjunct lecturer at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx, New York. During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a wide range of subjects, from remedial algebra classes to upper-level calculus.
Who inspired you to become an educator?
Growing up in Colombia, I had very passionate and resourceful teachers who fueled my passion for math and for helping others with it. I feel very blessed because once I moved to the U.S. I continued to have amazing teachers at White Plains High School (in Westchester, New York)— teachers who believed in me and inspired me to share my passion for math with others.
What motivates you?
As an educator, I’m motivated by my students. Every new school year for the past 13 years, I want to be the best teacher I can be for my students. It is a privilege to work with young people, to learn from them, and see them grow (so much!!) in a relatively short time.
I also feel constantly motivated to change the “negative” perception many people share toward math. I strongly believe math class can be the most exciting class in any student’s schedule. I really wish more students were able to enjoy math class.
What advice would you give to your first-year teacher self?
Don’t be afraid to seek student feedback on your lessons. I learned students are very thoughtful about giving helpful feedback to their teachers in terms of what works for them and what does not.
Also, try to observe teachers outside your content area. You will feel inspired to try new things with your students. I learned this later in my career when I was finishing my second master’s degree in educational leadership.
What do you wish more people knew about being an educator?
For me, being an educator does not stop when I leave work to go home. I feel most teachers are always thinking about their students in one way or another. I find myself constantly thinking about how to best engage my students in our next lesson/unit.
What do you love most about Bridges curriculum/math apps / MLC?
I really like the math apps. I believe using virtual manipulatives can be very useful for both students and teachers. Also, our students are very comfortable using technology, it comes very naturally to them. I feel this is something teachers can take advantage of at all grade levels.
What do you love most about working with students?
Learning from them! Every year I feel my students help me become a better teacher for my future students!
What’s your math story? In other words, how do you feel about math and why?
This is a fantastic question!! I plan on using it with my students at some point. I think my math story is ongoing, with many more chapters to come. When I moved to the U.S. from Colombia, I did not speak a word of English but was enrolled in a regular (non-ESL) math class. I did not understand what was being said but I understood the math—being in this particular class really helped me to learn English. I always felt that math is a universal subject, and having that experience really confirmed it to me.
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