Name: Jordyn Vicknair
Graduation Year: 2021
Degree: Mathematics, Concentration in Secondary Education
- Destrehan High School Mathematics Teacher: Gifted Math (Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus,
Calculus, and AP Calculus)
- East Ascension High School: Geometry
Jordyn Vicknair, GeauxTeach STEM Alumni
Q: What do you do in your current position, and what makes you happy to be doing it?
I specifically teach gifted math. That also means I'm in graduate school so that I
can get my gifted certification. I'm learning specifically about gifted students and
their minds, which is really cool. But what I really love about [teaching gifted math]
is how much [my students] and I share the interest to learn. What I really love is
working with students who also want to learn.
They are asking the hard questions. They are asking things that sometimes I don't
have the answer to. I have to admit, ‘I don't know’, and we look it up…It also makes
it a learning experience for me…Being able to have a certain respect level for your
students, so that you are willing to learn from them, is important…Just being able
to realize that technology is evolving, things are changing, and your kids are going
to know things that you don't know is really cool. It’s cool being able to not only
teach each day, but learn new things at the same time.
Q: What are some highlights that you have experienced in your career?
- The biggest [accomplishment] is probably receiving the Louisiana New Teacher of the
Year award. That was insane. The New Teacher of the Year award is super new. It was
the first year that it ever was given, and no one fully knew what it was/what it was
going to be. So, I remember my principal at my school saying, ‘Yeah, we nominated
you for this.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, sure, no big deal.’ like this is something that
just happens all the time. I'm going through the process. I'm filling out the applications,
and they're asking me, you know, share a lesson that really provoked student interest…so
I'm just giving my experience, and like, I love teaching. I love my job. So I guess
that kind of shines through when you're writing those papers. I just kept getting
deeper and deeper into the process. And [my school says], ‘You won for our school…You
won for our district…and now you're going to be a state finalist for the Louisiana
New Teacher of the Year award.' The day that I found out I was a finalist, I was crying.
I was like, ‘What is happening?’ It just snowballs [from there]. In your first year,
you're just kind of trying to figure things out. You're experimenting, trying to learn…so
winning was a crazy thing. It just really validates your experience. It really made
me feel like other people are telling me, ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job.’, and that
is a big thing. Since then, being able to meet so many teachers who were also in that
process [with me], new teachers in the same boat also feeling like impostors…has been
really cool too.
- So many kids come in with really bad previous math experience, either a teacher that
they didn't love or a subject in particular that they really struggled with. They'll
come in, and they'll be like, ‘I hate math. Like I don't want to be here, you know?'
Then you have to change their mind on it, you know, and the biggest thing is just
making them realize that they can do it. That's the biggest thing…Just getting them
to a point where they're confident enough to say, ‘I can do this.’, having kids tell
you they hate math, but [math] is their favorite class, or they wish they could have
me again next year, or this is the best they’ve ever done on a LEAP (Louisiana Educational
Assessment Program) test/in a math class is just crazy, [and I love it]. I'm a very
colorful and animated person, and that's not usually what you see in math and science
teachers. So, I think that I can relate to all students and make them realize there
is Art/English [in mathematics]. There's something for everyone.
Jordyn gets recognized as the 2023 Louisiana New Teacher of the Year award.
Q: What were the most significant takeaways or benefits you gained during your undergraduate
Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I learned during undergrad, which is very essential
to being a teacher, is the work life balance thing. Because you're in college and
college is not easy, you're taking all these classes, especially as a math major taking
4 or 5 math classes at a time, and you're spending your nights proof writing/doing
all this stuff and homework. But then, your friends maybe don't have to do that, and
they're like, ‘Oh. Come, hang out with us!’ So I've seen it affect people negatively,
and they kind of go all work or all play and then lose out on some things in life.
So I think stumbling through undergrad was about figuring out when it is time to work
and when it’s time to…give my friends and family the time that they need. So that's
something I was huge on in college, just making sure that some nights I was working
and some I was hanging out with friends or whatever.
That translates directly to being a teacher because I could work all night. Especially
when you're passionate about it. You really just want to make the best lessons, make
the cutest classroom, make the prettiest materials, or make sure every student has
a video, a worksheet, etc. I could work all night if I wanted to, but going through
an undergraduate experience and being able to realize there's a time you have to close
the laptop and be with people that was probably the biggest thing I learned just in
college. [It's] not necessarily a skill, but a lesson that has helped me.
Jordyn returns to her alma mater to teach at Destrehan High School.
Q: What did you learn in GeauxTeach STEM that informs how you think about teaching
or how you approach your job? What skills did you learn in GeauxTeach STEM that have benefited you in your career?
I will promote and talk highly about GeauxTeach any time that I can because the amount
of knowledge that I went into teaching with, just about lesson planning, how to relate
to the kids, and what your job truly is as a teacher was insane compared to other
Lesson planning is so fun and so easy for me after GeauxTeach. Which is crazy, because
I know when I was in GeauxTeach as an undergraduate, we write really long lesson plans
(5 pages) that are intense. You write down the questions you want to ask, what you
anticipate the student answers to be, plan out all of the activities about how you
have to figure [the problem] out, how you can get the students to come up with the
answer themselves, etc. That's the biggest thing that I learned through GeauxTeach,
how I can present [my students] with the materials and then watch them figure things
out, how I can facilitate and ask the questions to get them there. It was hard at
first, like it took a lot of time. That's why we're writing these 5 page lesson plans.
And then, you get to teaching, and you don't have to do that anymore…having that knowledge
and knowing the steps that I need to go through in my brain (Engage, Explore, Explain,
Extend/Elaborate, and Evaluate), all of those things made my lessons so much more
advanced for a first year teacher…The biggest thing for me is just being comfortable
and providing kids with websites, activities, games, etc….GeauxTeach really taught
me that teaching doesn't have to be [boring]; it can be fun. It can be a place where,
especially for math because of its potential to be the most lecture-y class of all
time, can be fun. GeauxTeach taught me ways to make it fun, engaging, and something
that the kids want to return to each day.
We never get too old for a first day of school picture!
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Just spending time with students and getting them excited about school is a daily
feel good. Being a teacher is the coolest job because every single day is a different
day. And you have no idea what to expect. You don’t know what kind of kids you’re
going to walk into. You don’t have any idea what they’re gonna say at any given time.
So, my favorite thing that I've experienced is just being able to make any day whatever
I want. For me, I just want work to be fun…when I go to work, I go to my classroom.
I love math, like that is my passion. So they come in, and I am able to get them excited
about it. That’s the coolest thing. Like even on Monday, you can make Monday the best
day ever if you want to because that’s just the kind of job that I have…I’m gonna
put some music on. We're going to do some integrals…It can be really fun. It can be
what you make it. That's the coolest thing.