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My students are amazing. They come from a combination of backgrounds, with over half coming from low income backgrounds. We have students who are anywhere from migrant workers to travelers, to amazing athletes. Living in a rural community in the mountains of Idaho has given them the ability to learn hands-on. I have had many students use manipulatives and shout, "I get it now!" That little bit of confidence goes along way here. Many have even told me they are actually liking math now.
I have found after so many years of teaching, that students don't mind working out math problems, as long as they have a white board to do it. I have also discovered that having a teacher center to do small group instruction and clarification has increased student understanding. I am looking to maximize my instruction with a white board table. It would allow me to show the examples and work out the problems with them, and give them the ability to use the space near them to work out problems. My students love to come up and this has really helped me to build strong personal relationships with many of my students, especially struggling learners.