John Palo

As an educator in urban education for the past ten years, I have come to realize there must be a balance between what is expected of students in education and the reality that exists.  In particular teaching math (a wildly unpopular subject), I realize that most students’ priorities don’t start with math and usually not with education. However, I feel  with engaging lessons using real examples and emphasizing the importance of education to help brake the poverty cycle, students can be reached and ultimately be successful.  Important teaching strategies such as differentiation, positive reinforcement (rewards), technology, etc. can all be useful but the balance between expectations and reality is crucial.
I am a firm believer that students’ must not only learn about mathematics, but also simple life lessons, such as the importance of honest effort, being on time, effective communication, etc.  I try to incorporate this in all of my interactions with my students.  I also believe students need to be held accountable and become independent learners.  I am glad to see my students finally walk across the stage having earned their diploma, but I have more satisfaction knowing that I have helped those students be successful when they have left the comfortable confines of a high school setting.
For additional information on my work in the Fellows Program, please see my action research report on Homework Participation and Student Achievement in Mathematics.