With the new school year, Legacy has brought in some new teachers. One teacher who has caught a lot of attention is the new middle school math teacher, Mr. Ferguson. He is the son of the school nurse, Ms. Ferguson. I decided to interview some of Mr. Ferguson’s students to get some insight on what it is like to be in his class.
Marion Hennings and Riley Judah are in Mr. Ferguson’s 8th grade pre-algebra class. This is Marion’s third year here at Legacy, however this is Riley’s second year. Both have experienced the different math teachers that Legacy has brought in, and both had a lot of positive things to say about our new teacher.
Compared to last year, both students agree that Mr. Ferguson’s class is very fun and engaging. Riley really enjoyed when he had created an assignment putting math and the galaxy together. “He’s just very excited, unlike bored looking… it makes it hard to learn when you’re bored.”
I asked Marion how well students get along with Mr. Ferguson and she said, “Fairly well, as long as you don’t act like a nuisance in the class. He’ll be cool.” Riley’s answer was a little different, “He’s nice to everyone, he makes jokes sometimes, and he’s generally happy.”
With new teachers there are going to be new rules and new lessons. “He teaches math really well,” said Marion. “He tries to teach you some of the stuff that you might not understand. He uses [multiple] examples on the board. He sees if someone understands it well. Until everyone understand it, [then] he’ll go to the next one, so you don’t have to be confused the whole entire time.”
However, Riley had something different to say. “ I think he goes a bit too fast but that's partially due to the long periods.” Riley commented on how she feels she might be in trouble with her future grades because she feels he teaches too fast. On the other hand, she does see the positive improvements compared to last year, “He actually teaches, the other teacher gave us worksheets, but Mr. Ferguson asks us if we get it, teaches it, and is fun with the way he teaches.”
One aspect that is most important when running a classroom are the rules, without a good set of rules you won’t have a functional classroom. Marion understands that Mr. Ferguson expects the students to respect the rules as he respects them. They are simple rules that she feels that students do respect. Marion says students respect Ferguson’s rules “...because he actually gets us involved. In other classes we get bored.”
Mr. Ferguson has really made a positive change for the students already and students seem confident that it will only get better from here. The true test of Mr. Ferguson’s teaching will be at the end of the year when students take the STAAR test. I talked to Mr. Ferguson about what this year is going to like for him, “I’d certainly say that my biggest challenge will a little bit of remediation, some of the students are not where I would like, but I take that as a challenge, and gives me a little work to do but I don’t mind that, I think I’m here because I can do my job and I can do it well.”
Mr. Ferguson has a lot of pressure on him, “The bar is really high, [but] I set that bar myself.” Mr. Ferguson had this to say about the scores last year, “not too good, not good at all, without going into anything, overall average.”
Mr. Ferguson has already seen improvement in his students, “I see significant improvements. Both in the way they understand math and they like to engage in math is different. Previously from my understanding it was packets, packets everywhere, packets here, packets there, packets everywhere. No, not in my classroom, in my classroom we’re working, we’re working together, we work in groups.”
The teacher assistants go into Mr. Ferguson’s class to help any student that may need that extra help, which has also helped with the improvement of math scores for the year. “Ms. Schlamowitz is in here for the ELL students, just to make sure that they have that support that they need during their instruction...Mr. Sims is the special ed [teacher assistant], so he assists with the special ed students. Ms. Muthu is for math support, in general for students who aren’t doing so well in math, based on their previous scores. They do their own thing, they all have their own function.”
It seems that so far Mr. Ferguson has really been living up to the name that he gave himself. Students are getting a lot the help that they were in need of, unlike last year. Students seem to be a lot more confident in themselves. Mr. Ferguson hopes to see “at minimum a 5% increase compared to last year test scores.” Now everyone must play the waiting game for the end of the year testing.