Algonquin alumna Colleen Barry has returned to the school as a first-year math teacher, giving her a fresh perspective, with the hope to help her students perform to the best of their ability.
Coming back to Algonquin for her first year of teaching has allowed Barry to see the inner-workings of teaching.
“I didn’t realize how much effort teachers put into one student,” Barry said. “If I have concerns about a student I know to go to their last year’s teacher … or their guidance counselor, and every person cares so much about the student.”
One unique aspect of Barry’s experience is that her previous teachers are now her peers, and she says they have been very helpful to her.
“It’s definitely weird because I’m calling my teachers I had by their first name, but I feel really welcomed back,” Barry said.
Barry isn’t completely new to working in schools. She has worked with kids since she was in high school, where she found her passion for teaching.
“I’ve always loved working with kids,” Barry said. “I started out working at a daycare, and then I worked at a middle school, and then I started volunteering here at the high school, and I ended up loving the high school level.”
Currently, she teaches Algebra II, Calculus and Individual Math.
Barry strives to help students understand concepts better by relating math to students’ lives.
“I think the topics will click a little bit more if a student has something that they already know to relate that new topic to,” Barry said.
According to math teacher Sean McGrath, being a young teacher helps Barry innovate her teaching style.
“She brings a fresh perspective on teaching, and I think young teachers bring that perspective,” McGrath said.
Sometimes, however, these methods don’t work, which is tough for Barry.
“[It’s difficult] when I try to explain something in about three different ways, but it’s still not clicking,” Barry said. “It drives me crazy because I want it to click so badly that I want to think of another way, but sometimes it’s hard to.”
Despite the challenges, Barry loves being able to teach the students of Algonquin.
“I just love helping people,” Barry said. “I love when a student isn’t understanding something and then it clicks, and it’s really fulfilling to know that you’re the reason why that topic clicked in their head.”