Unversity of Richmond
I played the viola for 9 years.
Q&A with Gabbie Capriles
What is possible for your students?
Anything is possible for our kiddos. I know that it is the students who are in my classroom every day who will change our country and world to be a more accepting, loving, and equitable place. That will look different for every student, but I want it to be possible for them to enact change in whichever profession or future they choose.
How are you pushing toward that possibility?
As a 5th grade math teacher, I’m pushing towards that possibility in two ways. First, I want to ensure that students are becoming not only masters of the 5th grade math standards, but also problem-solvers. The exact skills that students learn in the 5th grade will not be as impactful as the flexible thinking muscles that they strengthen throughout the year. Secondly, I want students to use math as a tool to understand, critique, and better our world. That means that math can’t just be something that happens through multiple-choice questions, but rather through the context of events and realities in our current oppressive system.
You are working every day to make math fun for your 5th graders—how do you inject joy into your classroom?
Math can be a subject that students absolutely dread and see as isolated skills that they must sit and practice silently at their desks. I want our classroom to be a place where students are exploring, manipulating, discussing, grappling with, discovering, and loving math. This means that I spend time thinking about ways to ask the right questions to guide students to come up with their own conclusions; I’ll find a resource to make an abstract concept hands-on; we celebrate the small wins; students are encouraged to work together and disagree (respectfully!) with one another. I am artsy and creative and so I try to bring that into my classroom – watching my students get inventive with the math we’re doing brings me lots of joy, too!
What are you seeing as the result of that?
There is a lot of evidence of growth from students this year and that is super important. But when I really know that I’m moving in the direction of our class vision, it’s on the days where I can look around and students are engaged, smiling, and actively working towards understanding the math we’re doing.