2017-2018 Teacher of the Year
Teacher of the Year

Mr. Dexter Oden

As a math teacher, students often arrived to my class with a bias against math. However, the bias is usually revealed during open house when I meet their parents. The parents tend to tell me that their child struggles in math and that they struggled in math as well when they were in school, which causes a bias in the students towards math. So, engaging all of the students in learning becomes my top priority. Initially, I build and establish a positive relationship with my students and parents. I want them to know that I care about them as a person first and then their education. Over the years I have learned that the students will work better for you, if they know that you care about them as a person first. My motto for years has been Trust, Believe, and Execute. I want the students to Trust that I am capable of teaching them the curriculum, Believe in themselves that they are able to learn, and Execute when it is time to show mastery of what they know.

I engage all my students in learning by making the lessons meaningful to the students. I like to teach the students through real world applications so that the students can connect the classroom with real life. This year I had the opportunity to use a program in my class called Learn Zillion. This program allowed me to teach the entire curriculum through real world applications where the students were encouraged to embrace collaborative learning that fostered student engagement. The students were able to demonstrate their understanding of the lesson through their productive struggle and my feedback throughout the activity on their way to mastery of the lesson. Students were then encouraged to share their process of completing the activity in a forum with their peers to understand how others students completed the same activity. This allowed for peer review of the activities and showed different methods for solving the same problem, permitting students to understand that a math problem can be solved with different methods. Also, by allowing a forum to explain their methods of solving the math problem, students were given a voice in the classroom to promote their mastery of the lesson. When students are allowed to pursue an activity because they are eager to learn and understand, the student engagement tends to increase while producing mastery of the curriculum.

In order to communicate strategies that work in education, educators must be willing to demonstrate the strategies that work for them in the classroom. Modeling the behavior for others tend to allow others to see exactly the expectations of the classroom and the benefits of the strategy. So modeling a lesson that shows positive teacher-student relationship, meaningful lessons, collaborative learning, fostering understanding, providing autonomy support, and demonstrating mastery would be the best communication I could provide for educators and the general public.