MATH TEACHER'S METHODS ADD UP TO SUCCESS
Maria Warren was in her first year teaching at Estacada Middle School when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Warren has taught for 11 years and joined the Estacada School District in the 2019-20 school year. That March, the school went virtual to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“It was a confusing time. There was a lot of uncertainty about what education would look like,” said Warren, who teaches math.
One element that helped Warren make it through the uncertain time was keeping her motivation for becoming an educator in mind.
“It’s important for me to understand my ‘why’ every year that I teach, so that when things happen, I have a foundation to fall on. That drives me forward no matter what,” she said. “I still get to show up and build relationships with students and help them figure out who they are as learners.”
Maggie Kelly, communications director for the Estacada School District, praised Warren for her dedication to students.
“She is incredibly innovative,” Kelly said. “She’s super student focused and great at engaging students. She’s really been diligent in students taking ownership of their own learning. She has students setting goals and tracking their progress. It’s been fantastic to see that innovation from her.”
During summer 2020, just before the district started the school year in hybrid learning, Warren taught a hybrid math course where some students learned in the classroom and others participated virtually.
“It was nice to experiment and try things out. I still use a lot of that technology today,” she said, adding that the technology introduced during hybrid learning has helped keep quarantined students up-to-date with their lessons.
Whether in distance learning or in person, Warren likes to remind her students that they will play an essential role in society’s future.
“The number one thing I want for students is to learn who they are as learners, and who they are in this world. My angle is math, but it doesn’t matter what subject,” she said.
For Warren, the most meaningful part of teaching is interacting with the people in her classroom.
“Building relationships with students is the best,” she said.
During distance learning, this process changed but remained significant.
“There were a lot more one-on-one and small group Zoom calls,” she said. “We intentionally didn’t just talk about school. We talked about how we were doing.”
Warren noted that interpersonal connections are also relevant to learning math.
“The best way for students to learn math is to talk it through with each other and write it down,” she said.
Warren decided she wanted to become a teacher when she was in second grade.
“I remember where I was when I thought, ‘I want to be a teacher.’ I’ve always known since then,” she said.
Since and during online learning, the number of Estacada Middle School students meeting grading proficiency in math has improved. The school also has higher attendance.
Warren attributes these factors to the team at Estacada Middle School being willing to take risks in an uncertain time for education.
“This has been my favorite year, and probably my best year professionally,” she said. “As a district, we took risks and stayed committed to our goals.”