Jill Bemis, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher at Washington Middle School in Miles City Unified School District (MT), has been named the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math Teacher of the Month for January. Bemis is being recognized for her outstanding work in her classroom and ongoing support of teachers across the country as a member of the Open Up Resources National Professional Learning Community.
Bemis’s work with Open Up Resources 6–8 Math makes her one of the most innovative teachers in the country. The Open Up Resources 6–8 Math curriculum inspires a new way of teaching math by transforming classrooms into hives of activity focusing on discussion, questioning, debate, and the deeper conceptual learning of mathematics that follows.
Teaching colleague, Kristi Rebsom, nominated Bemis because of her passion for the curriculum that goes above and beyond just teaching it. Rebsom shared that, to prepare for implementation last year, Bemis taught all three grade levels and was the only teacher using the curriculum. Now, their entire school building is on board. “She is always watching the community videos, taking part in the live chats, reading the latest books and bettering herself for the good of students,” said Rebsom.
Bemis says that the most enjoyable part of teaching with the curriculum has been watching students who previously disliked math, and didn’t enjoy school, fall in love with learning and get excited about math for the first time. “Although the curriculum is challenging, it is written in a way that makes students want to try it,” she explained. “They get to celebrate their accomplishments and keep trying, what more could a teacher ask?”
“Be ready to work hard, learn a lot yourself and experience how math should be taught,” is Bemis’s best advice for teachers new to implementing the curriculum. She also added, “Make sure to have fun and enjoy the amazing community that surrounds the curriculum through Facebook, Twitter, and professional learning opportunities like the HIVE Conference.”
Open Up Resources is a non-profit on a mission to increase equity in education by making excellent, top-rated curricula freely available to districts. You can learn more at www.openupresources.org. Learn more about our National Professional Learning Communities here.