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I promise you are not bad at math ~Krissy Shelvey


Posted on Monday, December 21, 2020, at 3:46 PM

Krissy Shelvey, a teacher at VAL, shares four basic rules in her classroom for her students, and herself: have fun, work hard, be kind and laugh a lot. She assures students that if they abide by those rules, they will be just fine.

Krissy joined VAL in 2012 as a Employment Counselor in a grant-funded role working with at-risk fathers with young children. She has been the math and technology teacher since 2014. 

Krissy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business at the University of Vermont. While a student, she was recruited by her favorite professor and academic advisor—who was serving as Vice Provost—for an internship in the President’s Office. One of her task areas was to help plan special events including year-end commencements, which she genuinely enjoyed.

“Working for my teacher/advisor really helped me see my capabilities,” Krissy said. “I try to do that for my students.”

Krissy strives to help her students build confidence in their math skills. She engages myriad teaching strategies and finds a gentle (i.e., non-intimidating) way for students to speak up and engage the material.

“Many of my students arrive at my class expressing, ‘I’m so bad at math’ or ‘I can’t do math,’” Krissy said.  “I tell my students, ‘I promise you are not (bad at math); we just need to find a different way to approach it. You’re an adult and you have real world experience.  You already use math in different contexts.”’

“My work is influenced by Malcolm Knowles, and his theory of andragogy which is pedagogy for adults. Knowles’ research focused on the science of adult education and learning,” Krissy said.  “I let my students know I am their equal.  We simply have different roles in the learning process.  Our experiences really bring a lot to the table. I plan my classes but not too much.  Students will give you what they need in dialogue.”

Before the pandemic, walking past Krissy’s classroom reveals engaged students with lots of laughter amid the learning.  Governor Phil Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” directive, precipitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, forced a shift to online teaching.  Krissy made the jump and has learned new tools along the way.

During the transition from in-person to online learning, an interesting dynamic emerged.  Spouses, partners and children of her students spontaneously showed up to attend Krissy’s class to morph into a form of “Family Math.”  These math groupies speak to the engaging nature of Krissy’s teaching, even via a computer screen!

“I love working with my students at VAL,” Krissy said. “How lucky I am to have a job in which I get out of it as much as I give? I also get to share my passions in other areas by designing and teaching fun classes like Marketing, Epidemiology and even Dog Training. It’s really fun for me to see my students try new things and gain confidence they can take with them to their next phase of learning.”

“My connection to students goes beyond the classroom,” Krissy said. “Sometimes my students reach back to share their successes or ask me to serve as a job reference for them—which I’m happy to do. I recognize that I’ve had many amazing individuals in my life and have been given opportunities that have affected me so profoundly—in positive ways—that they’ve inspired me to pay it forward.”

VAL is fortunate to have a teacher of such talent, creativity and dedication!

© Vermont Adult Learning

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