OCMC Volunteer Training

by Lia Tian, Irvine High School, Class of 2017

In preparation for the upcoming year, OC Math Circle held the first of two volunteer training sessions this past Saturday at the new Northwood location. Long before the masses of students arrived, OCMC members were already hustling upstairs and downstairs, setting up for the volunteer training. Anticipating that over 70 students would attend the event, volunteers busied themselves with rearranging furniture, setting up projectors, and gathering instructional materials.

By one o’clock, student participants were gathered excitedly in the reception area as they waited to sign in. As the instructors made their final preparations in their lessons, volunteers helped direct everyone to the correct rooms. Soon, students were divided into three groups, and everyone had settled into their seats and the teachers began their lessons. The afternoon schedule consisted of three rotations with two breaks in between.

In one rotation, OCMC President, Michelle Chen, first gave a short presentation on OCMC volunteer duties. Then, Vice President of Marketing, George Hu, held a marketing workshop. After warming the atmosphere with an ice breaker focused on creating a good first impression, students practiced how to write emails and introduce OCMC. Later, Dr. Li, the adult advisor of OCMC and one of the instructors, dropped by to help motivate students with real donations as they gave elevator pitches on why people should donate to OCMC.

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A little ways down the hall in another classroom, Dr. Li and Mrs. Walker, another instructor, gave lessons on teaching methods. Volunteers learned the importance of creating teaching material that their students would be able to understand through the Bar-Model method, a visual way of representing Algebraic concepts. Also, Dr. Li highlighted the importance of getting to know the students; if there was a strong student-teacher relationship, the students tended to learn more. Mrs. Walker demonstrated another method of teaching by guiding the students as they created a foldable on “Mathematical Practices” This Graphic Organizer emphasized elements of effective teaching such as allowing the students to struggle with concepts before walking them through, using both abstract and quantitative reasoning, and presenting multiple solutions to the same problem.

In the last room, Mrs. Pedroza captivated her students with a presentation on effective teaching. She started off by introducing herself with a personal story about her journey as a teacher. From the first day that Mrs. Pedroza started teaching, she resolved that she would create meaningful relationships with her students by getting to know them. So, everyday, at the beginning of every class, she took the time to shake each and every student’s hand and properly greet him or her. Furthermore, instead of making last minute preparations during passing periods, she stood outside and talked to students and did all her preparations the night before. While other teachers may have scoffed at her methods, Mrs. Pedroza emphasized that as a teacher, it was important to gain the respect of your students through student-teacher relationships. As she said, “If you want to be legit, be legit, be true to who you are.” Throughout the lesson, Mrs. Pedroza impressed upon her students that they should, “remember that teaching is an amazing opportunity to impact an amazing number of lives. Teaching is an opportunity, not a job.” During the lesson, Mrs. Pedroza covered motivations, ways of being an inspiration, communication, classroom management, and increasing participation. By the end of the lesson, the students had not only learned useful teaching tips, but also several valuable lessons that could be applied to all parts of life.

After an afternoon of hard work, the student volunteers left with more than just lesson on how to teach and promote. They learned concepts that could be applied to a large variety of different things- future job interviews, group collaboration, and even general life lessons.

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