Westwood Middle School

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Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! I am so very honored to have the opportunity to work with the amazing students and families here at Westwood Middle School.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and am endorsed to teach K-8 mathematics from Eastern Washington University. I then recieved my Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governors University. 
Journey from theater and soccer to the classroom:
       Me with long hair               Teacher
I grew up with a great aversion to math. I did it because I had to in school. Throughout high school my two passions were soccer and theater. After high school, I pursued a degree in communications (wanted to be a news anchor). There I was part of the Edward R. Murrow school of communications where I participated in Cable 8 (the campus TV station), and KZUU (the campus radio station). I also got to act in a main stage theater production at WSU as well.
I was taking remedial math classes at WSU and the professors I worked with really started to make math come alive for me. Many of the concepts just started to click. At the end of my Sophomore year I was also slowly moving away from wanting to be a talking head reading teleprompters in a newsroom and wanted to forge a new career path.
I left Washington State University and joined the math and education program at Eastern Washington University. Needless to say I loved the career choice but it was a lot of work to go from remedial math to math teacher.
After graduating from EWU, I did 4 years of teaching 5th grade at Salnave Elementary here in the Cheney School District. While I loved teaching elementary, I didn't have a passion for ELA or history, yet I had to teach those subjects (we often filled ELA and social study time with more math time!!). 
Which finally brings me to Westwood! This will be my 5th year here at Westwood. I've taught 6th grade and 8th grade mathematics, but have found teaching at the 6th grade level to be my forte with my 5th grade background and knowing where our students are coming from and transitioning to the expectations and learning goals of middle school! 
I mention this journey from remedial math to math teacher because it's the foundation I teach all students from. Having a growth mindset and seeing math not as something you're born great at, but something you can work hard at to be better is such a life skill that relates to all aspects of life. 
What we're learning in math:
6th grade mathematical topics lay the foundation for what students will be learning until they graduate from high school. For all 6th grade advanced and general math classes I teach, we will be covering 6th grade standards. Advanced math students will be diving deeper into these concepts while we integrate linking 7th grade standards. We will not be skipping over 6th grade content! By the end of advanced 6th grade, students will be ready for beginning 8th grade topics building into highschool algebra during their 8th grade year here at Westwood. 
6th grade math topics include:
Geometry and Area, ratios, rates, and percentages, fractions and decimals, equations and decimals, rational numbers, and data sets and distributions. 
Building a Thinking Classroom:
This is the first year I will be teaching through a process called "Building a Thinking Classroom". I and many of us grew up in the traditional classroom: notes, lecture, homework. In my research to better my teaching practices, I've decided to dive in with new methods to get our students to mastery of topics taught. Students will spend lots of time with groups talking with others, proving their thoughts, and building knowledge together. In my experience when students are given a difficult task, if the task isn't in their notes, then students won't do it. This year, I will be giving students tools to be more flexible in approaching problems they don't know how to do. We've all been in a state testing situation where we hit a problem we had no clue how to do, or have been given a job/task outside of school and we were told to, "figure it out". After this year, my students should be able to respond more positively when told to figure something out on their own. 
Final Note:
I very much want my school year to be a partnership between myself, my students, and families! Families if you ever have a concern about your student's progress, send me a message ([email protected]). I pride myself in connecting with families to help students reach their potential based on both my expectations and the expectations of families. As a dad of two children (5yr old and 4yr old) I wholeheartedly expect myself examining what teachers are teaching my children in school, and I expect no less from our active community here. Please reach out and let me know if any concerns or questions arise!
-Ethan Unland  
Westwood Middle School
Pride in Ourselves, Pride in our Learning, Pride in our Community