Teacher Spotlight: Lindsey Sample

Lindsey Sample
Lindsey Sample

Spotlight on Lindsey Sample: This Math in the Middle graduate is now teaching three sections of seventh-grade math along with sixth-grade math and reading for Milford Public Schools.

1) How many years have you been teaching?

This is my 10th year.

2) Tell us more about your new role as a math specialist, the grades you teach, and how this position came about.

Our superintendent, Kevin Wingard, decided to use me and my experience with Math in the Middle creatively. As an elementary building, we wanted to keep at least three sections in each grade level for our core subjects, math and reading, so I was still able to teach sixth-grade math and reading and keep my classroom. However, fifth grade needed to have a third teacher for those subjects. Because we have a 90-minute school-wide reading block, I couldn’t teach fifth-grade reading, but I was able to be the third section for fifth-grade math. After I finished teaching at the elementary, I went across the street to our junior/senior high school to teach two sections of seventh-grade math. This year, I don’t get to teach fifth-grade math, but instead I am teaching three sections of seventh-grade math along with sixth-grade math and reading.

3) How has your M2 experience helped you in this new position?

I think my Math in the Middle experience directly helped me to be considered able to teach mostly math and go between buildings. My principal and superintendent both knew about my being a part of M2 and that it was all math and math pedagogy. When they had to “get creative” I think they knew where to look and were pretty sure before even asking, that I would say yes to this opportunity. As far as teaching, I think my M2 experience has helped me to think about different styles of learning and teaching. I realize that everyone learns differently, and I try to use a variety of different methods of teaching in my classroom to reach a variety of learners.

4) Do you remember any favorite teachers? How did they inspire you?

As funny as it may sound, I was not a “good” or confident math student growing up, and I was one of those students who struggled to grasp certain concepts. If I were to look only at math teachers, I would definitely choose Mr. Jim Crew from Lincoln East High School. I had him for both Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 and he was always excited about math. It was in his classes that I understood math the most. I try to emulate his excitement for math and show my students that even though math might be “nerdy” it is really cool, and it’s really cool to be nerdy. When we come across something that’s especially mathematically cool I call it “mathemagical” and the students always seem to remember those “mathemagical” things. Dr. Jim Lewis is, of course, also a favorite. I have a list of “Jim-isms” that I like to ponder and make sense of, and use if the moment is right.

5) What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is the moment when a student has arrived at a conclusion on his or her own and not even realized it was significant. For example, my seventh-graders have been working on a challenge where they find the formula for the sum of the interior angles of any polygon. So many of them could tell me exactly what they did, what patterns they noticed, and how they arrived at each answer, and without any guidance from me, they told me the formula, not realizing it was one. It’s confidence-building for them and satisfying for me.

6) What’s your favorite TV show?

Can I have a few? I love “the funny ones” on Wednesday nights: Modern Family and Suburgatory, and the new Nashville show. There’s also this new show (also on Wednesdays... the only day I really HAVE to watch TV) called The Americans. I have to record that and watch it later since it’s on at the same time as Nashville!

7) What is your favorite thing about Nebraska?

There’s no place I would rather live. I like to travel and visit other places, but to me Nebraska is home, and I appreciate the space. Most of my family lives here or is from here; my parents live on the land where my great-great-grandparents homesteaded, and I even live on family land where my grandmother was born.