Meeting Students at Their Level - Kingswood Oxford

Faculty Profiles

April 19, 2024

Meeting Students at Their Level

Nicole Chantharasouk

Middle School math teacher

University of Connecticut, B.A., M.A.

 

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s quote about the U.S.’s quest to walk a man on the moon, Nicole Chanthasouk, KO’s Middle School math teacher, chose a career as a math teacher, not because math came easily to her but rather because it was hard.

 

“Growing up, I had difficulty understanding math,” Chantharasouk said. “But, I had an awesome math teacher as a freshman in high school who changed how I looked at the subject and made it a lot of fun. I try to bring that spirit into my classroom – to make the content entertaining and engaging. I love what I do, and I like to reflect that in my lessons.”

 

At times, Chan encounters students who say they dislike math, and she approaches them empathetically. She understands that they most likely struggled and didn’t understand the concepts. By meeting each student at their level, she finds various ways for students to tackle a problem so they can see it from different perspectives, making math accessible and real. 

 

“I love using visuals and providing as many examples as possible,” she said. “ I also love doing group activities so students can explore math problems and challenge themselves.”

 

She differentiates her learning approach in class depending on each student’s level of mathematical understanding. For those students who are more accelerated, she offers them more challenging material. She allows them to take the lead in class to help struggling students. By empowering them to teach a problem, Chan said that further explaining the material to another student embeds the lesson more deeply, repeating the process and reinforcing the learning.

 

This dynamic interplay between student-to-student and student-to-teacher creates a vibrant learning environment full of meaningful teachable and learning moments.

 

“I want the students to feel like they belong in my class and can share their ideas freely without criticism,” she said. I urge them to be independent thinkers, engaged in class, collaborative, and connected.”

 

Even if math is still tricky for some students to master, Chan encourages her students to believe in themselves through positive reinforcement.

 

“They should know they have the power to do anything as long as they keep up with it and practice,” she said. What they are learning now in middle school is so foundational that it will be woven into the math they will learn in the future.”

 

As a teacher, one of the most satisfying aspects of her work is when all the material begins to connect for a student. She enjoys seeing steady progress, especially for students challenged by the material.

 

“That’s the best achievement: seeing the growth, seeing them become confident within themselves, seeing them not give up and just keep trying,” she said. “Even if they fail at first, I’m there to support them. It’s important for them to know that it’s okay to fail in life. It’s understanding how to get back up, how to do better, and figure out what you are going to do to change and not let that define you.”

 

Favorite food: mac and cheese

Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice

Favorite music: Luke Combs

Favorite hobbies: walking the dog, reading

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