Hi! My name is Payal Patel.
What I do for a living…
I am a high school mathematics teacher, and I LOVE what I do. I have taught math in three different states – NJ/NY/PA- and three very different settings (from urban to rural – public and private).
I have worked with hundreds of students. In fact, this blog is inspired by all of my students. There is probably nothing else I would want to do on a daily basis. I enjoy guiding my students on how to think, not just what to think. I challenge students to build solutions to unfamiliar puzzles, construct models to reflect abstract concepts, and work with each other and teach one another.
My passion … the inspiration behind my blog:
My sister passion to teaching math is supporting strong character development among students. Specifically, I focus on preparing students’ minds to learning mathematics (though the scope of my blog extends to learning almost anything). As I work with students, I am always looking for ways to overcome the BIG barriers to learning. These BIG barriers include but are not limited to: anxiety, low self-esteem, excessive fear of failure, peer pressure, unreasonable expectations, low self-control, pessimism, lack of grit, and fixed mindset. If we don’t face our BIG barriers, then studying, getting tutored, and learning from different teaching styles will not help much. The first thing we need to be able to do is understand ourselves and open up to what the present moment offers us.
My blog is an action blog…not just a reading blog (Please visit the welcome page! Click here):
If we want to learn from each moment and grow with each experience, we need to work with our minds. In turn, our minds will work with us. This requires action. We change and grow most when we implement certain actions after reading or reflecting. It is easier to “learn” passively (we know passive work this does not lead to genuine learning), but at the end of the day, we learn by doing. After each blog post, I offer a guided meditations and guidance on specific actions geared towards the given topic.
…where my inspiration began:
For about 4 years, I was involved in hospital settings, learning medical sciences, and doing clinical research. During my time with patients and families, I realized that one of the keys to living a productive life was harnessing the power of the mind-body connection. Later when working with students, I noticed that the state of the mind impacted students’ learning to such an extent that even the most effective teaching techniques were, at times, ineffective. I began using meditation and yoga with students, and wow!, I observed an improvement in retention and accuracy within minutes of short meditations.
Cultural Roots of my Inspiration…
As an American, growing up in a home with parents who are immigrants from India, my teaching style and ideas about education are influenced by two cultures in which knowledge and learning are prioritized as gems of progressive societies. Almost every aspect of Indian culture I experienced growing up engaged the entire mind and body, from yoga to Indian classical dance. Meditation and the concept of the mind-body connection is central to ancient Indian philosophy, and these ideas left deep impressions on me. I draw on these ancient ideas and make them easily available in the modern American classroom keeping my students’ needs at the forefront.
Putting Thought Into Action…I inquire about what will help my students:
During my time as a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, I developed a teacher research project that explored the role of active relaxation exercises in the classroom. This project then flourished into using guided meditations to build grit, growth mindset, self-control, optimism, patience, self-trust, among a host of other character traits, which facilitate the learning process.
Other Roles and Steps in my Journey…
I draw from all of my experiences when I write –
- I completed my M.S. Ed (Secondary Mathematics Education) at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in the Teacher Education Program.
- I graduated as Salutatorian of my class at South Brunswick High School in NJ.
- I completed my undergraduate studies at Boston University as part of an accelerated BA/MD dual degree program, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
- I am a career changer, originally attended medical school at Boston University School of Medicine for almost 2 years before realizing I did not find my happy-self in medicine.
- I have published clinical research in American Journal of Ophthalmology, Graefe’s Archives, and OSLI. (vew publications here)
- I was one of the first Women in Science & Engineering Peer Leaders at Boston University.
- After leaving medicine, I studied math at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
- I am a Hatha Yoga teacher, RYT-200.
- I am a Bharatanatyam dancer, and I taught Bharatanatyam under my teacher at Kalanjali School of Dance for 6 years.
- Mindful Awareness Program Faculty Member, The Pingry School
- 2016 recognized NJ Middle School Science Olympiad Coach.
When I am not teaching and writing, I am:
- Sipping tea
- Baking and cooking
- Hanging out with family and friends
- Dancing in my living room
- Doing yoga and exploring pranayama (breathwork)
- Exploring Ayurveda