My Academic Road Trip

The First Class I Skipped

Dividing fractions, 5th grade curriculum

The first class I was skipped was second semester, fifth grade math. I probably did not skip it the way you are thinking of. I tested out of it, along with roughly seven classmates. We spent our math hour sitting on the floor in the hallway with textbooks, notebooks, and occasionally a middle school to help us. By the end, only four people passed all the required chapters and I was one of them. We all stayed friends through high school after having to bond over teaching ourselves sixth grade math.

We also missed out on a lot of fifth grade content, specifically about dividing fractions. I had some difficult way of figuring it out because I taught myself. It did not always work, so I usually guessed. The first time anyone taught me how to divide fractions was my Sophomore year of high school as we were preparing for the ACTs. Now I love dividing fractions. Maybe that is because it was not all I did for a month.

Starting High School

Similar to my first high school classroom. I had that teacher for almost five years in a row.

I went to the high school for geometry (skipping Pre-Algebra and Algebra One) in eighth grade. I was taking a class with juniors. This was when I realized I could explain math. I immediately found friends and helped them learn math. I could explain what we were doing in a way that they could do the math. These were very influential people and my first friends in high school.

Starting College Class

Similar to our community college Zoom rooms located in our high school.

I took my first college class almost six years ago in the spring semester of my sophomore year of high school. I was so anxious because I was a semester behind so many of my peers. In my school getting an Associate’s Degree or at least having college credit, is considered the normal. I was lucky enough to go to a high school that partnered with a local community college to offer dual-credit class. This was the beginning of school filled summers, endless labs, and late night filled six year stretch that comes to a close in eight short weeks.

Graduating Early

I technically graduated my community college with an Associate’s Degree a week before I graduated from high school. Going back to my high school for what was considered my “real” graduation felt like a dream. To me, I had already graduated. My mom joked that everyone who had their Associates were going to be experts because they had already graduated before.

Chadron State College

The building I took most of my classes in during my on-campus time at CSC. Roll Eags!

I came to Chadron late November of 2016. I had already visited University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and University of Wyoming (UW). I remember the drive the Chadron felt different than the other college tours. Before I was worried I was not going to like them. Now I was worried they would not like me. I liked UNC and UW but when it came down to how I was academically, they thought I was crazy for already having an Associate’s and I felt unwanted. I was worried the same thing would happen here that happened before. Deep down, I had already decided that I loved Chadron and was hoping it would feel the same way about me. Along the way I have been lucky enough to meet Chadron’s amazing college staff, professors, peers, and community members. I could not picture my life without Chadron!


Changing My Major

I remember the day I changed majors. I had always known I wanted to be a teacher, soon followed by math teacher. After taking more college math credits than I could use, I came into college thinking I would be a high school math teacher. I was at my older sister’s house after not doing well in Calc 2. It is best summed up by saying that I had a vastly different learning style than he did teaching style. I had been talking with my advisor and sister about it for a few days. When I finally took the plunge and made it middle school, I knew it was the right move. My sister said I seemed visibly at peace.

Learning from My Dad

From when I was little, my dad has always been the hardest worker I knew. He did what he was supposed to do and more up to his own standards. He should up before he had to and left long after 8 hours. He worked nights so he could watch my little sister while I was at preschool (four-years-old), then took us to either grandparents before leaving for work. We did not see him any other time of day, so he made sure it was our special time. He did this from as early as I can remember until both my parents lost their jobs and started their own business when I was ten (another great example of both of my parent’s work ethic). My dad was amazing. However, I am currently in the stage of early adulthood of realizing your parents are not perfect. I was always used to the idea that my mom was not because she was always open and honest. My dad made himself out to be perfect, but yet, here I am, roughly 17 years past this memory and finding plot holes in things I held dear. So, while my dad taught me to always work hard the conventional way, he also taught me to stick to my word, be honest, and above all, be kind.

4 thoughts on “My Academic Road Trip

  1. Thank you for this insightful post, Brianna, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you much better! I have not been so transparent myself, I’m afraid. Your dad’s advice (shared at the end of your post) seems to come through in your language throughout. Thank you for sharing your journey! I have always admired people with an adeptness for math, as this has never been true for me!! By the sounds of your life trajectory, you will make an amazing math teacher. What do you think it is about teaching math that can allow teachers to make the content more approachable to students? For me, I think I had a bad teacher at the outset, and because the content of mathematics builds on itself, I was never able to ultimately catch up, regardless of the teacher’s style. How will you approach students who seem to be behind?


    1. A problem I often run into is that I can be too transparent, so I am glad this seemed like the right amount! The biggest help I found in motivating my class for math was not the math itself. I would plan little things every day. For example, we usually had a timer that would go off around five minutes into class but while the timer was going down, there was an animation race. My kids loved it and got ready early to watch and guess who would win. I will attach the link below so this makes more sense. My kids were competitive in small ways. A five-minute timer worked but playing jeopardy for a class was a no-go. I started getting the hang of it as school was closed! Most of my students are already behind by up to three grade levels. Most of what I did was introduce a grade appropriate topic and figure out where they were missing concepts. I would go and introduce that new concept and continue the pattern of introducing and evaluating until I found what my students were missing and then built them back up to grade-level with that concept.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading about your journey. Finding the right college can be difficult and probably why so many students end up transferring. I also chose a small institution that facilitated my love for learning and led me into teaching! This is one of my first classes through Chadron and it has proved beneficial. Good luck on your middle school math journey!


    1. I definitely would recommend Chadron. As I left home, my parents divorced so I would never be able to experience what I had originally thought home was to me. Instead, I made a new home in Chadron!


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