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Distinguished Teacher Maria McClain

What advice would you give to people considering a career in teaching?

Teaching is a tremendously rewarding profession that provides us the opportunity to help young people reach their full potential. For those considering a career in teaching, call your local school and ask to visit or volunteer on campus. Get firsthand experience by sitting in classrooms, walking around campus, and talking to the students and teachers.
As teachers, we have the responsibility to bring our best to our students each day. We must inspire, support, and connect with them if we hope to teach them. The success of our students is dictated by the choices that we make every day. We must have an unwavering belief in their ability to achieve in order to create the climate for them to reach their full potential. We must meet students where they are, not where we expect them to be, and then work to support and guide them. We must broaden our focus beyond content acquisition and understand that achievement for all students can only occur once their primary needs are met. Helping students believe in themselves and their abilities becomes the foundation on which they can build their academic knowledge. Building a personal connection is the key to academic success.

What's the best thing about teaching?

Working with students to help them recognize and develop their personal strengths is the best thing about teaching. Giving students opportunities to develop persistence, perseverance, critical thinking, and problem solving skills not only helps them become better math students, it provides them with essential skills and experiences that last a lifetime. Watching my students’ faces when they discover a concept, finally solve a problem that has been bothering them for days, develop the courage to ask a question for the first time, or excitedly explain a problem or idea to another student are just some of the everyday rewards of teaching. The best part of teaching is helping my students develop as mathematicians and confident, successful young adults.