“Parallel lines have so much in common, it’s a shame they will never meet each other.”
Jessica Porterfield, math teacher at East Beauregard High School, believes that if you can make teaching and learning fun, everyone benefits.
“Math memes, math jokes, math songs – you name it, we do in my classroom,” Porterfield said. “My goal is not only for my students to learn mathematics, but also to find the joy in learning and living.”
Porterfield’s classroom is high-energy. Students learn math parodies set to popular tunes that teach math concepts. She interjects math jokes and creates movements to add to concepts – like making a plus sign or multiplication sign with your arms to emphasize the concept.
She provides incentives for students to get involved and to work toward accomplishing their goals in her classroom. Students are actively engaged, solving problems on the white board, working in groups, and pushing each other to do their best.
“Stickers are a great motivator for middle school students – who knew?” she explains. “And our math songs are a fun way to memorize difficult concepts and retain them. When I hear students singing those songs in the hallway, I know I am making an impact.”
Porterfield realized at the end of her student teaching that the joy of math had diminished, and she decided to be intentional about getting it back. She believes keeping the joy in teaching and helping students find the joy in learning is the key to happiness and success at school.
“This year more than most, I believe we have found a joy together in my classroom,” she said. “Of course, it is not there for every student every day, but it gives us something to strive for.”
Porterfield is the 2019-2020 East Beauregard Middle School Teacher of the Year.
She has been teaching mathematics at EBHS for the past three years.
She earned her Bachelor of Mathematical Science degree and her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Secondary Education from McNeese State University. She is certified in Mathematics Education grades 6-12.
She has taught 7th grade math and Algebra II. She currently teaches 8th grade math, Math Essentials, and Algebra I. She is also a McNeese State University instructor for Math 113 and Stat 231, dual enrollment courses at EBHS.
“Bring the joy!” she concludes. “Math can be mundane if you let it, so we don’t let it. We find the fun, stay engaged, and sing math songs together. And who doesn’t love a good math song?”