Working with Professor Walker this summer has given me great insight on the ins-and-outs of working as an educator in the STEM field. I plan on putting a lot of focus into secondary math education after graduation, but seeing the experience of someone in higher education and even administrative work at Teacher’s College has been amazing. Going through Professor Walker’s office and uncovering years and years of work as a professor, researcher, and author has really shown me all of the different opportunities there are when it comes to teaching STEM topics. Prior to working with Professor Walker, research was something that was incredibly daunting to me. I never imagined being able to stay organized while collecting data and creating materials; however, through the smaller scale research I have completed for Professor Walker--researching RFP grants, general statistics regarding math education--I have realized that while collecting data doesn’t take minutes, it is feasible and can even be fun, especially when it is regarding a topic you are passionate about.
My fear of research was a huge limiting factor in my consideration of moving forward with broadening my math background. I think by taking small bites of research for Professor Walker, I have realized that I am completely capable of doing research of my own. In fact, being inspired by Professor Walker’s projects on different math learning spaces and how we associate math education with different populations has made me particularly interested in how stereotypes specifically influence math education, from the educator and students perspectives. I’ve discussed these topics before in my Contemporary Issues in Education course, as well as even in some psychology courses, but would love to do my own research about the topic in the near future.
I’ve also realized, through this internship, how excited I am to really dive deeper into teacher training and really learn about teaching strategies and collaborating with other future educators. Watching Professor Walker collaborate with the other professors in TC’s math education department really showed me that education needs collaboration in order for it to be as great as it can be. My survey interview with Professor Baldwin included discussing the wonderful community of peers in the Noyce Scholars program and Barnard’s education program. It’s really opened my eyes to seeing how supportive and helpful collaboration is, especially when comparing it to my experiences in other disciplines here on campus. Professor Walker’s book on the different experiences of black mathematicians, Beyond Banneker, really showed me how much an individual’s experience in the math community, and education community, are shaped and influenced by collaboration with peers and other individuals.
This experience this summer gave me the opportunity to really expand the different ways I can see myself as a learner and future educator in the STEM field. I think I had a really one dimensional view of what I could be possibly doing, and working with Professor Walker has really expanded that and made me see new opportunities that are definitely options. Professor Walker and I have even discussed possibly working together next summer when she returns from her sabbatical, either in a similar position as this summer or doing more work in the field with various projects that will be going on through TC’s math education department. I’m extremely grateful for everything I have experienced this summer because of this internship, and I’m very excited to see where else it will take me.