Allyson Bork knows some would bristle at the thought of teaching middle school. Our Teacher of the Week said while it wasn't originally her plan, she loves making math exciting for seventh- and eighth-graders at Prairieview Ogden Junior High.
I find my work important because ... most people think teenagers are impossible to work with. They assume that spending full days with these sometimes-surly humans would probably be considered a form of torture. Most days, it’s the exact opposite. Awkward? Sure. But I have found that middle school students are at this perfect age where they still allow themselves to get excited about things that may later be considered “lame.” I can help them navigate what can be a very uncomfortable age and give them a safe place to laugh and learn.
I became a teacher because ... it was absolutely my calling. I originally thought I would be best-suited teaching little ones, but the universe had a different plan for me when the only job offers I received out of college were for middle school. Every year that goes by, I discover new things that I love about teaching teenagers. I am a goofball kid at heart, and these junior high students keep me feeling young-ish.
As far as the most unique lesson I teach ... I have this bizarre obsession with turning math into a scavenger hunt or a battleship game. I love the way my kids react when they come into the room and see math problems hidden everywhere. They scramble around under tables searching high and low for the next challenge. I wander around and provide advice, laughing as they find the one that was taped underneath my desk chair or to the ceiling fan. It turns what could be considered mundane into a noisy and exciting adventure.
My most fulfilling moment on the job is ... when a student overcomes the idea that they ‘just aren’t ever going to be good at math.’ I work tirelessly to make the subject approachable, using humor and creativity to keep students engaged to the fullest extent possible. There is no greater compliment than when a student says, ‘I hated math before your class. Now, I actually look forward to it every day.’
I’m passionate about ... the relationships I form with students each year. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to make 50 to 100 “new friends” every year for the past 15 years. I have also recently developed a new passion for math T-shirts. Even during remote learning, I still make an effort to nerd out every Friday with a punny math shirt.