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The Piedmont Highlander

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Hayden Pursues Passion in Teaching

John Hayden
John Hayden
John Hayden

Crickets fill the room as Math teacher John Hayden sits in silence waiting for brave students to answer questions, often waiting minutes at a time for questions to be answered. Hayden has been teaching for 32 years, during which he has learned many methods to optimize learning for students. Hayden currently teaches Math Analysis and Honors Statistics. 

“The decision was made for me in seventh grade, one of my teachers asked me if I would tutor one of my classmates and just doing that felt so good. I knew I was going to be a teacher,” Hayden said. 

Hayden thought he would go into business before pursuing his teaching career. He graduated from UC Berkeley and then went to teach at Saint Mary’s High School. 

While falling in love with teaching, Hayden simultaneously gained a love for storytelling. To Hayden, history entailed storytelling. 

Thus, Hayden pursued a history teaching credential.

 “What I realized after my studies with history and some math classes I took was that math was a story, and there are a lot of stories behind why we do things we do,” Hayden said.

Hayden has a different approach to teaching. While some math teachers will lecture, Hayden prefers storytelling. His approach provokes discussion and a more memorable learning experience for students. He learned this method of teaching from a problem-solving class he attended in college.

“He sang my class a song about the quadratic formula, instead of just assigning material to learn it. Now I will never forget it,” junior Miles Silver said.  

“His [Hayden] teaching style has made the class very memorable and enjoyable,” junior Daniel Grasman said. “ He emphasizes many things such as saying canceled is mathematically wrong. One time he made students leave the room for a minute because they used that word, it was really funny and helped us all learn the math behind it.”

Another approach Hayden has is extending what he calls  ‘wait time’. Wait time is the time between a teacher asking a question and answering it. While some teachers will move on after not getting a response in a few seconds, Hayden waits minutes at times. 

“The first time he waited I didn’t know what was happening, I was so confused, it was a little uncomfortable. Now I appreciate it and take the time to think. This can connect my class and help us learn,” Silver said. 

Despite Hayden’s effort to make class interesting, it can be challenging to get students to be interested in the content. There are two types of learners, active listeners, who participate, ask questions, and actively try to comprehend the content. There are also passive learners, who do not participate, don’t ask questions, and don’t always complete the work. Since the pandemic, there has been a noticeable decline in active listeners and an increase in the number of passive learners. This makes it challenging to get students to actively participate and be interested in the content, Hayden said .

“I enjoy participating in class, but sometimes it’s tough because most people don’t like to. I go up to the board to answer a question frequently. I think most people in the class are passive learners, which can make it scarier to participate because all the attention is on you.” Said Grassman. However even though it can be scary to speak out, Hayden strides to make the class feel like a safe environment, said Daniel.


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Ruby Johnson
Ruby Johnson, Social Media Editor
Ruby Johnson (11) is the social media editor for TPH. In her free time she plays lacrosse and waterpolo.
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