Being a double major in Middle Level Education and Theater, I take classes over the summer so I can come as close to graduating on time as possible. As of Spring 2016, I still had one math class left – a class that many other education majors have said is ridiculously hard. I started looking for an alternative.
After meeting with my advisor, I found out that I had some options to choose from. After looking at the course catalog, I realized I could take math class like Trigonometry or Pre-Calculus. I decided that I would take a math class at LaRoche College, the college my dad teaches at. The only math class that satisfies the course substitution was Calculus, so it looked like I was going to take that. I was feeling slightly terrified about the fact that I had to take Calculus because Math is nowhere close to my favorite subject.
My dad said that the class would be taught by a younger professor named Dr. Ryan O’Grady, who had won professor of the year. Even though I do not plan to teach math, there were many teaching tricks I learned from Dr. O’Grady at LaRoche.
On the first day of Calculus, a bearded man in jeans and a polo shirt enters and walks to the front of the room. Something about him seemed to resemble your average fraternity brother at Gannon. If anything, he was the total opposite of the stereotypical math professor.
Right when I thought he we were going to spend the entire class making fun of politicians (because that’s what we had literally done for the last five minutes), O’Grady said something I will always remember. He said that after he thought he lost our attention, he started to go off topic on purpose so he would have our attention when he explains an important calculus concept we would need to remember in order to survive Summer Calculus I.
O’Grady understood that the human brain cannot focus for four hours straight on really anything, so he would purposefully go off topic for a few minutes as soon as he saw us losing attention before something important so we would pay attention when he explained it. Then he explained math with scary symbols and tongue twisters wordier than the ones in Voice and Diction class here at Gannon.
I suddenly got the method to his madness. O’Grady knows college student psychology and teaches to that.
While I will not use everything O’Grady used in class, there is a lot I learned from him that I plan to use when I am a teacher. First and foremost, I will do my best to explain concepts in everyday terms so I can make sure the students understand it.
Also, if I ever teach a very lengthy summer class, I know just how to get the students’ attention once I think I am losing it.
O’Grady knows how to explain math to college-aged students. Someday, I want to try to explain English to middle school students in a similar fashion.