A DAY IN THE LIFE

Rochelle Williams, 
Toronto



By
Rosemarie Bahr

Go into the office at the Etobicoke Civic Centre, check e-mail, do some copying, return phone messages. Drive to a downtown Toronto school for a mid-morning appointment with a principal to discuss a workshop for her staff. At lunch time, conduct a 45-minute workshop with the primary math teachers from this and two neighbouring schools in how to use a particular resource. This resource is often a paradigm shift in the way teachers approach teaching math. After the workshop, debrief with the principal, discussing any needs that came up during the session. Drive back to the office for a mid-afternoon meeting with a publisher who has some new resources to show. If thereís time before and after the meeting, more phone calls and e-mail. After school, a session at an Etobicoke school with a group of teachers who have asked her to talk with them about ways of assessing student progress.
At least, that was the day Rochelle Williams, an instructional leader in mathematics for the Toronto District School Board, had planned for September 20.
But the day before, a secretary in the school she was visiting looked at her and told her she had pink-eye. Williams didnít think so because her eye was just a little itchy. The secretary, said, "No, itís pink eye. You should see the doctor."
The secretary was right. The doctor confirmed it and ordered Williams to stay home for a few days. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is easy to catch, and Williams had been in a school where some students had it. She could not risk passing it on.
She cancelled her appointments.
On September 20, Williams stays at home, keeping the lights dim, and makes phone calls for a new workshop that will help teachers work with kids who have a gap in their education. She spends some time working on the materials for the workshop. Itís scheduled for two weeks hence.
Williams has been teaching for 11 years, the last four as an instructional leader. Moving out of the classroom was a tough decision. "I really enjoy mathematics and I didnít always as a student," Williams says, "I always resolved to myself that I would teach it differently. Once I was at the faculty I saw there was a way to teach and learn that really made you a part of the math, rather than shuddering a bit and saying I just have to get through this. So, I really went after lots of courses and workshops as a teacher to be able to be the best teacher I could be of mathematics to elementary kids. So having done that, I was encouraged to seek this position. It was a very difficult decision because I still miss the students. I really do."
But, she wants teachers to know, "Mathematics really doesnít need to be so challenging a subject to teach. It is challenging but we talk about a constructivist or hands on approach and that makes it a far more enjoyable curriculum area to share with kids."

Rochelle Williams
Toronto District School Board
Instructional Leader
Elementary and Junior Mathematics
Certified in 1990
Faculty of Education, York University




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