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Sixth-grade math teacher Michelle Benages lets her students know that she is invested in their success. Benages also lets them make mistakes in a safe environment and treats mistakes as a learning opportunity—an unusual one that can help to transform a student.

Even from a young age, her goal was to be a classroom teacher, and she drew inspiration from her math teachers in middle and high school.

She used to struggle with math, but her teachers gave her the confidence to overcome obstacles. Benages then excelled as a math student.

In an interview with Elk Grove Village’s Daily Herald, the successful math teacher responded to a question about how she reaches students who don’t like math.

Benages makes it clear to her students that their success in math is important to her. At the beginning of each year, she tells her students that she believes in them and offers her guidance and support to help them overcome obstacles.

She has found that many of the students at this age believe that they can’t succeed in math. They base this view on their past experience.

Her goal is to change their worldview, and she makes math fun for them.

Benages also works hard to develop problem-solving skills that her students will use throughout life to become lifelong learners.

She also believes that even proficient math students must acquire a deeper understanding of math concepts to be able to comprehend the math that takes place in the world around them.

In response to a question about technology, she commented that appealing to tech culture is essential to keep students interested.

Benages takes advantage of the technology that Grove Junior High offers to continue conversations about math outside of school. Students often reach out to her in the evening to get help in solving a particular problem.

She learns from these conversations and sometimes reteaches concepts in small or large groups. Her students are lucky to have such a dedicated and empowering teacher!