We are proud to introduce our 34th Sunday Spotlight, featuring Joshua Miller who is a math teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas. We hope you enjoy the interview which includes math decorations, inspiring classroom insights, and more!
High School Math Teacher
Success Achievement Academy
7 years working in education
“I enjoy watching my students develop special “AHA” moments in my class. I teach in an alternative school so most students who come to our school do not enjoy math. They see it as a lot of busy work and worksheets. As a teacher, I try to incorporate various teaching strategies in my lessons (mostly hands-on) so students can see, touch, and hear the lessons at different perspectives.”
Get to know Joshua Miller
What do you love about working in education? What motivates you?
I enjoy watching my students develop special “AHA” moments in my class. I teach in an alternative school so most students who come to our school do not enjoy math. They see it as a lot of busy work and worksheets. As a teacher, I try to incorporate various teaching strategies in my lessons (mostly hands-on) so students can see, touch, and hear the lessons at different perspectives.
I want my students to enjoy learning math the same way I did. I want my students to develop critical thinking strategies that will help them be better prepared for the world around them. If the students can see I’m having fun with math, then I know they will have fun as well. It’s a matter of knowing what various topics interests your students and find ways to keep them engaged and active in class. My motivation is watching my students grow and mature each year they are in my class.
Why did you become a teacher?
I knew it was my choice of career when I was five years old. I played school as a kid with the neighborhood children and they always seemed to enjoy it. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a history teacher. Math was not my strongest subject at all.
When I took Pre-AP Algebra 2 in the tenth grade, I had a teacher who really helped me grow as a student and really understand math. Her name was Kathy Gore and she was a one of a kind woman who loved her students She challenged me to think outside the box and there were times I wanted to give up because I felt like I would never grasp the concept. She continued pushing me more and more until the light bulb went off. She pushed me to tutor students in mathematics and I showed the same passion to my peers that she gave to me. When I took her for Pre-Calculus in my junior year of high school, she continued pushing me until I found my love for mathematics. I remember at parent teacher conference, she told my father that I needed to become a math teacher because she could see so much potential in me helping others succeed. The more I reflected on it, the more I knew I was destined to become a math teacher.
I continued tutoring students throughout the community and worked as a long term substitute at 19 years old teaching 8th grade Math. I came up with projects that helped others realize they could learn math just as easily as I did if I continued showing them the love and compassion Mrs. Gore showed me. It was then I knew I was destined to become a teacher. Since then, I continued working as a substitute teacher in math classrooms until I began teaching in 2011. I would not change careers for anything.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
Since I began using Edulastic in my classroom, my students have been more motivated to do their classroom assignments. I am able to track their learning, work one on one with struggling learners, and help clear up any misconceptions the students have. My students are engaged during their assignments and push themselves to help other struggling learners in my classroom. The students step up to the plate and guide their peers whenever I am busy to assist other students.
Edulastic also helps me remediate lessons the students almost master so they can become successful when I devise any formative or summative assessment. Whether it is independent assignments or group work, the students use their mini whiteboards and other manipulatives to show they are able to master each assessment.
Describe your Edulastic “aha” moment.
My students enjoy paper based assignments but once I adopted Edulastic, my students were very dedicated to make sure all of their assignments are completed. Whenever they miss an assignment due to an absence, they are on target to make sure they finish the assignment so I can see what they know. If I am unable to assist students because I am helping someone else, then other students volunteer to peer tutor each other so they can fully understand the lesson or assignment until I am free to help.
My students work together as a team and do amazing things to keep their peers on the same level as everyone else. Edulastic also keeps me from copying papers constantly without misplacing assignments. I am beyond blessed to have this program and my school will soon adopt the program this next school year.
What are your teaching/learning goals this year?
To continue devising word problems for my students so they can identify key words that will help them become better prepared for the standardized test at the end of the year.
Sum up your teaching philosophy in a few sentences!
When you have a child’s heart, you have their mind as well. You never know what creativity the student can unleash until you know what drives them to learn. Guide them, and they will let others follow.
Favorite motivational idea:
“Whatever you are, be a good one”- Abe Lincoln
Tips for new Edulastic users:
1.) Be consistent on using it. Find your students strengths and weaknesses.
2.) Look at the reports tab. It helps me find where I can use intervention and enrichment strategies so I can differentiate my lessons and activities.
3.) Collaboration with other teachers because they could definitely use it in their classroom. Showcase how it benefits you and how you can set new goals and accomplish them throughout the year.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Multiple selection- really helps the students to think critically and know that one answer is not always the correct one.
Favorite snack while using Edulastic
Anything sweet. I’m a candy lover.
Spring or Fall?
Anything by Stephen King
Best tactic for getting the class quiet?
Using the time-out signal from Capturing Kids Heart
Must- have classroom Decor:
Any math poster
Favorite time of the school year and why:
Anytime I do a project because the kids have fun and I do as well. I also enjoy the first day of school because I get to meet new and returning faces to showcase the activities I plan to do.
Kindest compliment you have received from a student or teacher?
You’re the best math teacher ever! You make it look so easy and fun. I never liked math until I had you as a teacher.
Funniest student moment?
When my students begin rapping about the content we are covering in class. When you hear the beats and change in voice, you can’t help but laugh at them. I have to say, my students know how to rap and are really good at it! 🙂
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year:
Watching students develop those “AHA” moments and not only show them to me, but to other students and teachers as well.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Traveling and spending time with family and friends.
What is your goal in life?
To move into building administration so I can guide other teachers and students to continue pushing themselves to no limits.