Finding her math identity

UM-Flint has helped Daniela Goetz become a math educator.

Daniela Goetz transferred to UM-Flint in search of a four-year university that didn’t make her feel like just another face in the crowd. She immediately felt a connection with her new campus.

“My professors took an interest in me right away,” Daniela recalls. “They made it a point to find out what I was interested in, and what I wanted to do with my degree.”

A double major in the Mathematics Teacher’s and the Integrated Science Teacher’s Certificate Programs, Daniela plans to become a public school teacher. She’s already received plenty of hands-on experience working directly with middle-school teachers and their students.

As part of the Teacher’s Certificate Programs at UM-Flint, Daniela has spent several semester immersed in classrooms at local schools prior to starting her student teaching. As part of this experience, Daniela was paired with experienced teachers who also served as her mentors. She helped develop classroom curriculum, crafted lesson plans, observed classes in action, and worked with small groups of students on specific subject areas and lessons. 

“The benefits of being exposed to classrooms before doing student teaching are tremendous,” says Daniela. “It gives you the confidence and practical knowledge to lead a class of students more effectively. You have the chance to connect textbook learning to the actual classroom.”

Daniela has conducts research alongside UM-Flint math professor Laura McLeman.

Outside of class, Daniela has been conducting research alongside math professor Laura McLeman on the ways different learners interact with and understand math. Through her research, she’s exploring the idea that even students who don’t feel comfortable with math can learn and even excel in the subject, with the right teaching approach.

“I look at myself as an example,” she explains. “I’m not naturally good at math, but I still decided to pursue it. Now I like it. I believe embracing math concepts comes with gaining ‘math maturity.’ It’s also important to customize math instruction around each student’s individual math identity. Our research is showing this to be true.” 

Daniela and Professor McLeman have presented their research findings to their peers at conferences. As part of UM-Flint’s student-run Math Club, Daniela and a group of fellow math students have also attended conferences in Toronto and Atlanta. 

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Daniela adds. “The level of support I’ve found at UM-Flint has made a world of difference. I don’t think you can find that at a big university.”