Meet Maureen LaFemina
Master Teacher of Mathematics
B.S. Mathematics & Masters in Eduation M.Ed, from the University of California
She has taught high school math for 6 years, first in Los Angelis and then for the Boston Public Schools.
Focuses as a classroom teacher:
Students building critical thinking skills through higher-order questioning, cooperative learning and classroom investigations.
Role at CSU:
She is a Master Teacher and currently teaches the Step 1 course.
Quote to live by:
"Some men look at things the way they are and ask, "Why?" I look at what could be and ask, "Why not?".
What is your favorite aspect of being a teacher: :
The “ah ha” moment. That is the moment when a student has been working hard to understand and apply a concept and then…it clicks. It usually occurs after a series of questioning and some frustration on the part of the student. No matter how big or small the concept may be in the long run and no matter how obvious or subtle an individual students’ “ah ha” moment is, it’s a big deal. It means our students are engaged and learning. Being a witness to moments of achievement and a facilitator of learning has been my own “ah ha” moment.
"If I could reform education it would start with...." :
…what students are taught and how they are taught. To do that, we need passionate, creative teachers with strong content knowledge. -- I am excited to be part of the CSUTeach team, working to make changes in education by how we train new teachers. I believe that by focusing on STEM education [as we] bring our students into the 21st century, we are headed in the right direction to improve student outcomes!
Students tend to have apprehension or negative views towards math and science. How do you think you can alleviate this? :
I think it is crucial for teachers to learn early on about the previous classroom experiences of each student. If a student struggled previously in their math class, they’re going to start off doubtful of their ability and the possibility for success. I believe a teacher’s awareness of a student’s academic, familial and social circumstances are the first defenses against disengagement...
What's the best advice someone ever gave to you? :
...The hackneyed advice “don’t smile until Christmas” has resonated with me, mainly because when I first started, I believed it. The students do not want a stoic teacher, but one who loves what they are doing, someone who is comfortable in the classroom and can communicate effectively with young minds. I have found, instead, that the best tool for engagement and classroom management, is to start off not pretending to be somebody you are not. Be consistent with expectations but show joy and excitement for student achievement. Be genuine!
Final thoughts: When I was 18 years old I knew two things about myself: I loved mathematics and I loved teaching others. Given the opportunity to explore teaching early in college, I felt prepared to enter the classroom. Since that time I have come to understand teaching as much more than a profession, but a way of life and I am excited to be part of the process for a new generation of teachers.