Southeast Education Student Teaches Math with Robotics

Will To Do In Their Own Words:

Southeast Missouri State University senior Tyson Roth of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is fine-tuning his math teaching skills with the help of robots.

Roth, a middle school education major, is student teaching at the Danby-Rush Tower Middle School in the Jefferson R-7 district to fulfill his student-teaching requirements. He is assisting Hillary Hensley, a 2011 Southeast alumna, with STEM lessons and the use of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot kits to teach math and technology to seventh grade students.

“Tyson has been a great asset to my classroom. His content knowledge is exceptional and he was totally prepared to be in the classroom,” Hensley said. “Having a student teacher that is ready to be immersed in the classroom work from day one creates a dynamic classroom that supports student learning and gives them more resources.”

Read about how he’s using robotics to help students think outside the box while using the creative side of their brains to solve engineering problems.

On his inspiration for becoming a teacher:

I started college as an engineering major. I took an internship and did not like the work. I needed to do something different, something fun in life. I realized I really liked high school. I made strong relationships and thought I should teach and inspire kids the way my teachers inspired me. I want to give back to my community and help kids grow. I was interested in STEM through engineering, so I chose the math content.

On learning how to use robotics in the University’s EDvolution Center:

Dr. Bill Bratberg, the associate professor of middle and secondary education, suggested that I teach a lesson with the EDvolution Center’s robots for the Perryville School District. This project also tied in with what I was learning about teaching math. The lesson dealt with finding circumferences and programming the robots in a simulation that required the robot to capture an alien and return to earth. The district liked the lesson so much that they purchased robot kits and have introduced the lessons into their curriculum.

Working with the robots from the EDvolution Center helped me prepare for my student teaching at Jefferson. If I didn’t have that experience, the Jefferson students would have to teach me. The Center has great technology for preparing teachers to create hands-on lesson plans.

On why robotics helps his students learn:

The robots give the students an opportunity to apply what they are learning to hands-on projects. Sometimes, I tell them to just try. In the real world, engineers are going to test and to see what goes wrong and tweak it.

On being a student teacher:

There is a lot going on. At the beginning, you are unfamiliar with the school and the kids, and you feel out of place. Now, the kids ask me if I’ll be at their volleyball and football games. It’s good to build relationships with them. The more comfortable you are with them, the more you will trust and understand each other. My experience at Jefferson R-7 has been great. Mrs. Hensley has been phenomenal, and she would do anything for me. The faculty have been very welcoming.

On his favorite moments as a student teacher:

All students have different interests and wants. I believe it’s important to find some sort of interest with each student and then relate those interests to the content material. With some students, relationships are easy to build. When I find ways to connect with all of the students, even the quiet students and the ones who really struggle in math, that’s when I feel successful as a teacher.

On why he chose Southeast:

I chose Southeast because I heard great things about the education program. A lot of my teachers are Southeast alums, and they said they loved it.

I owe a big thanks to Dr. Bratberg. He taught me how important it is to build relationships with my students in order to be successful in education. The Department of Education’s testing program for content assessment and teaching certification has a lot of steps. You are well prepared and very confident by the time you take those tests.

Students should pick Southeast because the professors are willing to work with you. They understand you are a student, developing as a teacher, but also a person, too. They give you all the resources you need to be successful with education.

On his future goals:

I’m ready to hit the ground running with STEM programs. I hope to take what I’ve learned about the Jefferson R-7 STEM program and start my own program in another district. I hope to have my own classroom within the first year. I’ve already started applying.