Educator Spotlight: Lora Crouse
Meet Lora Crouse
What grades do you teach, and/or your title/role?
I am a fifth grade mathematics teacher.
What school, district, or institution do you work for? Location?
I teach at Lyons Mill Elementary School. We are a part of the Baltimore County Public Schools system in Maryland.
Who inspired you to become an educator?
I have been inspired by so many to become an educator—from my sister who taught me how to count before I was in Kindergarten to the many outstanding educators who were my teachers over the years. But, mostly, I am inspired by my own students to continue to be an educator and lifelong learner.
What motivates you?
Empowering students to take ownership of their learning and find their math identity is especially motivating to me. I love the aha moments and the growth that comes from students trusting their own strategies and reasoning. I live for how excited students become in those moments.
What advice would you give to your first-year teacher self?
Trust the kids, and learn with them and from them. They can do so much more than many give them credit for, so avoid the trap of ever thinking they can't do something. Give it to them, and then sit back and watch them prove to you that they really CAN do it! You will be amazed.
What do you wish more people knew about being an educator?
I wish people knew just how much the kids become my kids.
What do you love most about Bridges curriculum/math apps/MLC?
I love how the fifth grade lessons in the Bridges curriculum allow the students to enter into the learning from multiple pathways. The problem strings provide opportunity for every student to use the strategies they have already acquired while helping them to develop new ones by looking for the connections between the problems. My students love sharing out the many, varied ways that a problem can be solved and feel good about themselves while doing it. It's awesome to see them adjust their strategies too after listening to and seeing their classmates' thinking or teacher modeling an alternate strategy.
And, OH! THOSE MATH APPS!! They have been a game changer for helping students "see" the math and make sense of problems in school and at home (yes, parents love them too). There have been so many times when a student has used the model they'd created on one of the math apps to assist them while explaining their reasoning or supporting/debunking another person's reasoning. The mathematical discourse in our class has grown because of the math apps. They're just all the Standards for Mathematical Practice really!
Thank you, MLC, for the abundant online resources that are available to assist with planning, professional development, differentiation, and digital learning. MLC is responsive to feedback and ever-evolving to keep up with the changes we are encountering on what seems to be a daily basis. No other curriculum has ever done that as quickly as MLC, and it shows just how in tune they are with what's really going on in classrooms.
What do you love most about working with students?
I love the relationships that form when working with students and watching them change and grow in the time that we have together.
What’s your math story? In other words, how do you feel about math and why?
While growing up, I didn't have much confidence in my own math ability, especially once I hit the fourth grade and encountered "factor trees." That lack of confidence stayed with me and then was coupled with a complete lack of understanding once I hit high school algebra and geometry courses. I muddled my way through algorithms, procedures, formulas, and proofs with no idea why I was doing what I was doing other than it was what my teacher told me to do. It wasn't until I began my elementary education undergrad program at Towson University in 1992, where I was first introduced to math manipulatives and visual models, that I could truly feel confident in my understanding. Since the introduction of the CCSS progressions, the emphasis on helping students to conceptualize math, multiple strategy approaches, and problem-based investigations, I have grown not only in my understanding and confidence as a mathematician, but also in my complete and total fascination with math! This has helped me to be the teacher I needed when I was a kid. I am now enrolled in a masters of mathematics education program to earn my second master’s degree… The first one was in literacy education, but that's another story. Who would have thought that confused, overwhelmed little fourth grade girl could become one of math's biggest fans?
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