Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My First Year as a Math Team Coach

This year our school's Senior High Math Team fell in my lap.  The experience was interesting and enlightening.

The way the math team works in our school is that it is part of a large Math League comprised of 4 neighboring counties.  The league is broken down into 6 sections of neighboring schools.  Each month (October through February) a school hosts their section's competition.  Each competition is broken down into an individual round and a team or relay round.  During the individual round, students have 10 minutes to answer two questions from Algebra, 10 minutes for two questions from Geometry, and 10 minutes to answer questions from Algebra 2.  The team or relay round is also for 10 minutes.  Individuals and teams earn 1 point for each correct answer.  No partial credit; it's either right or wrong.

After 5 regular meets, we have a sectional meet for each team that places first in their section.  Then we have the state meet.  The state meet is for all of the Math Leagues in New York State.  Our league puts together the top 20-something students and creates an A team, a B team, and a team of alternates.

For the first time ever, a student from our school made it to states!  This student is particularly brilliant and he is the heart of our team.  He works very hard and is dedicated to learning.  Our school is very proud of him.

During the season our team met every Wednesday (or at least tried to), and the students worked together to solve problems from past competitions.  I helped students as much as I could, but much of the time I felt unequipped.  It wasn't until the state meet that I realized why.  I didn't grow up enjoying math.  I never spent any of my free time doing math for fun.  Ever.  At least not like this.

One of my goals for this summer to spend some time studying math just for fun.  There are some Algebra 2 topics I should brush up on, I've missed doing calculus (it wasn't until high school calculus that I discovered my love for math), and I've always wanted to learn Number Theory.  It's weird, but since graduating college and becoming a teacher I feel like I've been getting dumber when it comes to math.  I'm hoping that my efforts will help me be a better math coach.

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