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Q&A with David Hartman, honored for math teaching
On occasion, LPS Communications uses the 'Question and Answer' format to learn more about education from those who are new to a position, honored with a major award, or otherwise in the news. To see more Q&As, click here.
David Hartman is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award is given to high school teachers every other year. Hartman has taught at Lincoln Southwest High School for 10 years, and previously taught at Robin Mickle Middle School. He is currently the chair of the mathematics department. We asked him a few questions about teaching math.
When do you first remembering becoming interested in math, and what role did that play into you being a math teacher?
I enjoyed math during my elementary years, was selected by my eighth-grade teacher to attend a math competition during my middle school years, and often was the ‘go-to’ person when my peers needed help during my high school years. I knew in ninth grade that I would become a math teacher. I never considered a different career before, during or after college.
What classes do you teach, and what is your role as chair of the LSW math department?
During my time at LSW, I have taught all classes from algebra extended to pre-calculus. The past few years I have primarily put my energy toward the algebra extension classes. My role as chair is to put LSW mathematics students first and then my teachers second. I encourage collaboration among my colleagues and especially encourage them to get involved in professional development activities (e.g., mathematics and education courses offered at UNL). I have a great team of teachers to work with.
How has your teaching style changed since you started 17 years ago?
Tons. During the first few years, I closed my door, did not collaborate with others, thought ‘I’ knew what I was doing, and just viewed my students as empty vessels that I needed to fill with my wisdom. =) As the years have progressed, a multitude of professional development activities (ranging from experiences and coursework at UNL to mini-sessions and committee work within LPS), have ‘opened’ my eyes to a landscape of best practices that I can shape according to my personality. I love trying new things out and tweaking others. I owe much to the leadership of Jim Lewis at UNL, Matt Larson at LPS, and literally 100's of my fellow math colleagues within LPS and across the state of Nebraska.
What have you learned in working in collaboration of other teachers?
Collaboration is the single most important thing a teacher can do!
Here's what two others had to say about David:
Rob Slauson, LSW Principal
David is a true professional. He is a strong leader who leads by example from his work with his colleagues and his students. He is not a big, "rah-rah" guy; he does it the old fashioned way by rolling up his sleeves and working with people. He is a master at helping new teachers plan and prepare appropriately. In addition, he assigns himself some of the more difficult courses so that he remains in touch with the challenges of teaching. David is a people-person who is motivated by the success of others. He is successful because he makes others successful. He has taken collaboration, planning, preparing, building common assessments, and curriculum alignment to the next level in our building by enlisting the support of his math team. He has used his research regarding Math in the Middle to develop a foundation for his work. David realizes that success in education cannot come in a vacuum; it takes the skilled leadership of getting everyone working together for a common purpose for students to become successful. It is through student success that his department experiences success. Dr.Hartman realizes that he and his team are making great progress but they are not yet where they want to be. The ultimate for David and his team is for their students to reach their individual and collective potential. There are many measures that demonstrate success in our Math Department. However, the ultimate success comes from students reaching their capability threshold! We are very proud of Dr. Hartman! He is very deserving of this award and the recognition that comes with it.
Matt Larson, LPS math curriculum specialist
"The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching is the highest honor a mathematics teacher can receive and Dr. Hartman is a most deserving recipient. David epitomizes what it means to be a professional teacher: he is passionate about teaching and supporting his students’ learning; he continuously inquires and reflects on his own teaching to improve it; he seeks to deepen his own understanding of mathematics and integrate that understanding into his teaching; and he does not treat teaching as an isolated act, but rather effectively collaborates with his colleagues not only at Southwest, but across the district to improve mathematics education in Lincoln and support all students. David’s leadership and example have been critical to creating a positive learning environment for mathematics at Southwest."
Published: July 13, 2012
Updated: July 13, 2012