Ask any student about their toughest subject and chances are Math will rank near the top. But Mark Miles knows how to break down numbers so everyone in his class can come up with the right calculation. "They trust me to help them, that's the most important thing and so I work very, very hard to establish a good relationship with the students so they feel like there's no worry."
Miles had a knack for math growing up, but didn't consider teaching until he coached a little league baseball team. That experience taught him the joys of working with young people. "So I switched over to education at that point and the only regret was I wish I had done it earlier because I wasted two years of college before that."
Students say Miles helps them overcome math anxiety with stories from his childhood. 8th Grader Brooke England says "he puts it down to where he was a kid and he understands how we feel and we can get through it." Shanti Mastin, also an 8th Grader, says "if its hard, if we think its hard like he'll make it easier so we're like gosh, its really easy. And he's really funny, like every time people are sad, he'll make them happy."
Miles looks for those "ah" moments while teaching. He loves to see students catch a spark and understand something they didn't before. "They're doing the work, I'm just here to help them and push them a little bit if they need it."
And what does he tell students when he gets that age old question about when will this be used in the real world? Miles says "I tell the kids its because you can do it that allows you to do other things. Its kind of like working out, no one has to bench press on a daily basis... but because you can do it you can do other things."
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