I have my BA in Mathematics from CSU Stanislaus and my MS in Mathematics from CSU East Bay. I also hold a CA Secondary School Teaching Credential with a concentration in Mathematics. I have been teaching in Community Colleges since 2015. I have been teaching for TMCC since 2018.
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Brian, and we have one son together.
Ever since I was a child, I dreamt of becoming a math teacher. When I was in 6th grade, I had a teacher who made math fun and the whole class became intrigued with learning new math concepts. I wanted to be like her and instill the same love of mathematics into my students. Throughout my high school and undergraduate degree, I had a mix of good teachers, and not so good teachers, but I never lost my will or determination to inspire others. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I completed my secondary school teaching certificate, and began teaching high school. I loved what I did, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the “light bulb” moments with my students.
After teaching for a couple of years, I decided to go back to school for my Master’s degree. This lit my fire again for mathematics, and I began teaching at the college level. After my first semester teaching, I received the anonymous feedback from my students. I was so happy to read some of their responses about what they had learned and how I had helped them understand concepts they thought they would never understand. One of my favorite quotes from a student was “Mrs. McCleary was always smiling and happy at 8am, she must really love what she’s doing”, and that student was right!
I have had students in my classes from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. I am constantly trying different approaches to teaching the material based on feedback I receive from students, whether that comes after the class has ended, or by the look on their face as we are going through a problem. I love teaching, but what I love more, is when my students are learning.
I am always striving to incorporate different life experiences into my lesson plans and am always mindful of the things I do and say, both in the classroom and out, as to respect the differing views of others. While in the classroom, I use a variety of methods for solving problems, and provide my students with resources they can use outside of the classroom to help their understanding of mathematics. Utilizing available technology is also a part of my classroom experience. I also understand some students’ aversion to mathematics due to previous bad classroom experiences. I try my best to change their view of math by offering humor, being compassionate, but also requiring them to work hard. I strive to maintain an inclusive classroom and encourage my students to ask for help if needed. I push my students to be the best, and to never feel ashamed of being smart.
I know that some students can visualize mathematics problems, while others need to work slowly step by step with a lot of repetition to understand what they are doing. Something that I do in my classroom is encourage my students to work together to solve problems. I have students start individually on a problem, then have them “discuss with their neighbor”. As I am walking around the room, I look for students making mistakes, for students who feel lost, and for students who understand the topic. I spend time showing students how to correct their mistakes or give them similar problems to try so they are not as confused or overwhelmed. I also like to partner struggling students with others in the class who understand the material so no one falls behind.
While teaching, I am constantly looking for feedback from students. I am always asking them for the answer, instead of giving the answer. I check for understanding on a regular basis using both formal and informal methods. I tend to give formal weekly quizzes, but I am always testing my students’ knowledge. Community college level mathematics is where I find the most fulfillment and job satisfaction. I enjoy helping students learn and understand mathematics and have received a lot of positive feedback from students who were incredibly happy with the fact that they learned something. I have even had a couple of students who came back to visit and tell me that my teaching has helped them to decide they wanted to further their mathematical education, which is always my goal.
I want my students to feel welcomed and recognized. Students at community colleges have many goals. Some will continue their education, some are taking classes to change careers, and others are taking courses to improve their situations. I am always learning my students’ names, discussing their dreams and ambitions, learning about who they are and what they want to become.