We are pleased to honor Madison Olsen as our September Graider of the Month. Madison is currently a junior at the Indiana University School of Education and is an aspiring middle school math teacher. Through The Graide Network, she supported a 6th grade math teacher in an urban school that serves 95% low-income students. Not only was Madison the first Graider to complete three assignments for a teacher this fall, she also received rave reviews about the accuracy of her grading and how helpful her feedback was for the students.
Madison has wanted to be a teacher for a long time—since before she can remember! On her “Student of the Week” poster in first grade, Madison wrote that she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. That stuck with her through high school, when she realized that she had a passion for working with adolescents in particular. When she arrived at Indiana University, she tried business, psychology, and other classes too, but she found that her introductory education class was her favorite by far.
Why math? Math has always been Madison’s strong subject and she likes the idea of solving questions with definitive answers. More importantly, Madison says, “It is a subject that isn’t often liked. It would be cool to be the teacher that makes students love math.” Madison was inspired by her math teachers because of their energy and enthusiasm for the subject, especially Mr. Foster in seventh grade, Tracy Corneil in tenth grade, and Karen Koelm in her senior year calculus class.
What did Madison learn about middle school math from supporting a teacher on The Graide Network? Madison’s response highlights her own transition from student to teacher. She noted that students perceive the constant request from teachers to “show your work!” as something required just to receive full credit. As a Graider, she realized how important showing work really is. When a student shows his or her thought process, she is able to pick the components apart, know where he or she went wrong and provide the right kind of feedback to improve the student’s understanding.
When we asked Madison what is something that scares her about becoming a teacher, she acknowledged, “My biggest fear is not having the answer to a question. In math, there can be a lot of different ways to come to the conclusion. Every time I have expressed that fear to teachers, they help me understand that sometimes it’s ok to not have every answer. It’s ok to help a student and find the answer together.”
We wish Madison all the best on her journey to developing as a teacher candidate. She is already making an impact on students and teachers and we look forward to watching her inspire her own students to develop a love of math. And in case she ever needs a small reminder of her calling, she still has that poster!