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Mary K. Brennan

Mathematics

Education

  • Thomas More College, B.S. Secondary Mathematics Education, Gifted and Talented endorsement
  • Northern Kentucky University, M.A. Education, Gifted and Talented endorsement

Teaching philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

The most important skill I want my students to learn is problem solving. Mathematics is not a list of unconnected topics that can be filed in separate compartments, but more like a big ball of pieces of string tied together. Many pieces touch directly, but the other pieces are all an integral part of the ball and must be rolled along together for understanding to be achieved.

Teaching methods to reach these goals

Large group presentation to small group discussion to individual responsibilities is the pattern of learning. Each student is expected to be aware of gaps in understanding and use resources wisely to fill those gaps. My experience teaching at a Catholic accelerated school and comprehensive public schools has enabled me to interact with students at all levels and to inspire them to reach their potential.

My favorite projects

One of my favorite projects is for the semester review in which the students in a group of three invent a review game, create the pieces needed to play the game, and present the rules and objectives to the class. After the presentations, the class members play the games to prepare for exams.

Another activity that the students enjoy is a “Factoring Tournament.” The yearly tournament has an emphasis on speed and accuracy in a two-tiered bracket where the winner gets to challenge the teacher.

Why I love teaching

I have a real love for math and strive each year to foster this love in my students. My first task of the year is to create a culture where students are comfortable with making and learning from mistakes - honing and perfecting their skills. Then we get to discuss mathematics as a language and move into word problems and problem-solving techniques. I get very excited watching their progress.