Interview with Hamlin Math Enthusiast: Gillis Kallem

Gillis Kallem is our Lower School math specialist, this is her 11th year at Hamlin.

1. When and how did you fall in love with math?

When I was a kid in school I enjoyed math, it came to me easily and made me feel good about myself. I could see relationships with numbers. I fell in love with math again when I was training to be a teacher. I loved the beauty of teaching math.

2. What is your role in the Lower School?

Guiding the grade level teachers, looking at best practices, including how we develop numeracy for students. I also think about students developmentally, how and when do they acquire their skills? I help with differentiation of instruction, and co-teach inquiry sessions where students are given a problem, but no one tells them how to do it, they have multiple entry points and multiple strategies for solving it. I believe in a growth mindset, and work to elucidate what math is, for both teachers and students.

3. Explain one way that you enjoy supporting math learning.

I love it when a student becomes fully engaged during an inquiry investigation because the solution is open to interpretation, and they have an entry point. It is very fulfilling to watch a student become a leader really doing math with a purpose.

4. Who has influenced you in the math world?

Cathy Fosnot, Jo Boaler, Pam Harris, Graham Fletcher. These are the people I follow on YouTube and I read their blogs. Cathy taught me that when children are engaged with math in a meaningful context they become fully immersed and curious. These people believe that math should be taught for a reason, for a purpose.

5. Finish this sentence. Exploring math is like_____________________________________

a journey into the known and unknown simultaneously. Along the way you stumble across unexpected places and experiences, and the exploration is exciting and inspiring.

6. What is one goal for a Hamlin student completing our lower school math program?

Macro: They are willing to persevere when confronting seemingly impossible problems.

Micro: They are able to work with numbers easily and figure out efficient strategies appropriate for a given mathematical situation.