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The Infamous Ms. Hall Takes the Mystery out of Dublin High School Math

February 21, 2014
Barbara Hall

Barbara Hall

On February 14, 2014, I had the chance to interview one of my favorite teachers at Dublin High School: Ms. Barbara Hall. Math is Ms. Hall’s forte, as she teaches the subjects Algebra II with Trigonometry and Trigonometry with Pre-Calculus. I sat down with Ms. Hall in her classroom and asked her a rapid fire series of questions, as she ate her lunch, about how she became a math teacher and why she loves math.

Sophia Bafaiz: So, how are you today, Ms. Hall?

Hall: “Just great. I love interviews. Go ahead.”

Bafaiz: So, where were you born?

Hall: “I was born in Michigan, in a suburb outside Detroit.”

Bafaiz: Which college did you attend?

Hall: “University of Colorado, majoring in math.”

Bafaiz: Are you married?

Hall: “Last time I checked, I was. I kissed my husband goodbye this morning.”

Bafaiz: Aw! Do you have any children?

Hall: “I have two boys.”

Bafaiz: What influenced you to become a teacher?

Hall: “I remember when I was a little kid, I always used to play school when I would come home from school and I was always the teacher. For a long time, I always wanted to be a teacher. Because when you think about it, when I was growing up, that was basically your only role model. It was either your mom or your teacher. And I just loved playing teacher.”

Bafaiz: That is so cute!

Hall: “You played dolls, I played teacher. What can I say?”

Bafaiz: What is your teaching philosophy?

Hall: “I want students to want to come to my classroom. I want them to want to learn and I want to be able to teach them.”

Bafaiz: What was the most frustrating thing that happened to you as a teacher?

Hall: “I actually do not remember having a frustrating moment. But, I guess in general, you could say I think my biggest frustration is that I love math and I love teaching it and I want kids to learn it. And they cannot appreciate the importance of it. So, I think that’s my frustration because math is really important in the real world. It may not be important for some of the things these kids are going to major in, but you know, engineering, math, science—they are the jobs of the future. So, I really want them to understand how important math is and that’s frustrating because I don’t think some kids do.”

Bafaiz: What was the best thing that happened to you as a teacher?

Hall: “I don’t think there has ever been one best thing, but it goes back to my philosophy. It’s a good thing when a teacher realizes a student really likes coming to their class, really likes learning and they’ll say to you ‘I really like coming to your class, I really like learning.’ The fact that they want to come, that’s what I want. And I don’t want them coming because this is a fun class. I want them coming because the environment is safe and they feel that they can learn something. It may not be what they like, but at least they are willing to try and learn.”

Bafaiz: What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?

Hall: “My weakness would be that I am very impatient. I want to use the 56 minutes to interact with the students and get them to learn whatever we are learning that day. And I am impatient when I see the clock not working in my favor or the students not working, so I get impatient over that and that’s a real weakness. My strength would be that I try to create a safe environment for the students. I don’t think anybody could feel unsafe when coming into my classroom.”

Bafaiz: What other subjects have you taught?

Hall: “I never taught anything but math. I’ve taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Algebra II with Trigonometry, Trigonometry with Pre-Calculus. I never taught Geometry or Calculus.”

Bafaiz: What do you like most about teaching?

Hall: “I like interacting with the students; I really do. I love the students even though there are days where I love my job more. And I love math! I really love math.”

Bafaiz: What do you dislike most about teaching?

Hall: “All the extra stuff that goes along with it. You know, like going to the meetings, the administrative and staff meetings, and there is a lot that you don’t see under the radar that we do just beyond teaching.”

Bafaiz: What is your least favorite branch of mathematics to teach?

Hall: “That would be Statistics and Probability. Statistics is not hard for me, like I don’t mind it, but I’m not into it. Probability… I can really appreciate how tough kids have it because it was never my strong point. I’m more of a black and white person and probability and statistics is not always black and white for me.”

Bafaiz: What is your favorite lesson to teach in Trigonometry with Pre-Calculus?

Hall: “I love teaching mathematical induction. I also love Trigonometry, I really do and I love Trig Identities. I am very happy teaching Pre-Calculus because I love all the topics of the subject.”

Bafaiz: Would you say you are a tough teacher? Why or why not?

Hall: “I think I am more of a demanding teacher. The one thing I want is for kids to work to their potential. That could be another frustration for me as well. It bothers me to see some students who are very smart and take advantage of their brain. They don’t put in the effort or time and they can get away with it because they’re so smart. Kids should always try for the best, no matter what. I think I am tough on kids because I expect them to use their potential in class.”

Bafaiz: Why did you pick to teach at Dublin High School?

Hall: “I used to be a student-teacher here and there wasn’t a job available at first. So, I went to a middle school.”

Bafaiz: How was that?

Hall: “Awful. Don’t even ask me about that. And it was in a different district.”

Bafaiz: So were you still a student-teacher or a teacher at the middle school?

Hall: “That was when I was done student-teaching and I got a full-time job in a district other than Dublin. And I quit. I literally quit at the end of the first year. It was that bad. Then, there were two openings in the math department at Dublin High and it was only for two periods. And I took it. After two years of teaching here, I became a full-time teacher.”

Bafaiz: If you could give your students any advice, what would it be?

Hall: “Work to your potential and be the best you can be. Be happy at what you do, but you may not be happy all the time at your job. Don’t give up and always try to figure something out. But, you should always strive to do your very best and work to your potential. Go into something you’re happy with and don’t be scared of the hard stuff. You have to at least try it because you may surprise yourself. You may be able to do it and you never know unless you try.”

Sophia Bafaiz is a Dublin High School junior and student writer for OneDublin.org.

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