TIME 2000: PREPARING FUTURE MATH TEACHERS
-- Queens College Program Addresses Problem of Unqualified Teachers; Oct. 24 Conference for High School Students to Feature
NEW YORK, October 1, 2003 -- The thought of math class more often brings groans than smiles, but Queens College hopes to change that. Instead of “chalk-and-talk” classrooms, the college's tuition-free TIME 2000 program is preparing a cadre of undergraduates in more exciting methods of teaching mathematics. At the same time, the program is addressing the critical shortage of qualified math teachers in New York. On Friday, October 24, the college will host the Second Annual TIME 2000 Conference, “Celebrating Mathematics Teaching,” where the program’s methods will be demonstrated to 175 local high school students who have the interest and potential to become exemplary math teachers.
The conference will feature a keynote presentation by Bradley Fields, a “mathemagician” whose magic show—combining dance, mime, magic, and comedy—illustrates mathematical principles. Fields has performed to critical acclaim at schools, theatres, and universities nationally and internationally; he was the first American magician officially presented in Beijing by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Formerly a New York City public school teacher, Fields proves that mathematical ideas can be fun.
After his performance, TIME 2000 students will attend workshops demonstrating new classroom techniques. For example, geometry will be explored with play dough, while transformational geometry will be put to use by creating and animating graphics on a graphing calculator. There will be a workshop on teaching distributions and probability by using data derived from Jurassic Park; and the use of graphs, equations, and tables will be taught by modeling and analyzing a population of trout.
With support from the Simons Foundation, the conference is free to all participants. Each high school is invited to send one teacher and six students (students must have at least a B average in math).
The conference will be held 9 am–2 pm in Rosenthal Library on the campus of Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing. A light breakfast and box lunch will be provided.
TIME 2000 is an undergraduate program at Queens College that has been recruiting and preparing top students from New York City to become math teachers. Begun in fall 1998 with a National Science Foundation grant and directed by math professor Alice Artzt, the TIME 2000 program combines advanced math coursework with training in innovative teaching methods. The program offers two years of free tuition to everyone accepted, and a full four years to those who commit to teach at least two of their first five years out of college. To avoid other programs’ high dropout rates, TIME 2000 provides regular advising and fosters a close-knit learning community, intervening to help students master the high-level mathematics that often discourage prospective math teachers.
TIME 2000 differs from other math education programs: it is, according to graduate Tara Wachter, “a small math education community.” It recruits students early, singling out promising high school graduates. The intimacy and mentoring have proved helpful to even the best students. As Wachter says, “I had some idea I wanted to teach, but the math didn’t come easy to me.” Wachter now teaches math at Herricks Middle School.
TIME 2000 eschews the “chalk and talk” stereotype of the math teacher. From the outset, students are asked to consider the cognitive issues particular to teaching and learning math, and they are encouraged to integrate new technologies in their classroom routines. They learn to relate math to real-life applications—analyzing data from a Wendy’s Web site, for example--and to encourage cooperative learning among their own students. Eric Glatz, one recent graduate now teaching at Richmond Hill High School, is confident that he is ready to teach the city’s newly adopted mathematics curriculum. The TIME 2000 methods, he says, are “more student-centered rather than teacher-centered, more hands-on, more writing-focused, more open-minded than math is usually seen.”
With 85 students currently in the program and about 20 graduates now teaching, TIME 2000 is building a cadre of math teachers trained in new thinking and methods—qualified teachers more likely to remain committed to their profession.