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Kathleen O’Connell Hopping
Kathleen O’Connell Hopping, a Lesley University graduate, received her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston University. While at Lesley she met Linda Dacey, the professor most responsible for Kathy’s evolving love and understanding of mathematics. It was during this time and through her experiences as an elementary school classroom teacher in training that the “why” of mathematics became clear. Through manipulative models and visual representations she was able to develop a much better understanding of how students learn best.
Her early years teaching fourth grade on Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts exposed her to the challenges of working with transient populations of students that posed significant issues regarding their different backgrounds and experiences in mathematics. Military dependents arriving and departing at various times throughout the school year enabled Kathy to develop a heightened sensitivity to the various levels of thinking and reasoning incorporated by children in their study of mathematics. It was here that she realized that a solid foundation and deep conceptual grasp of concepts and skills would most often result in a stronger, long-term understanding.
Membership on various mathematics curriculum committees and work as a consultant for the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts soon followed and helped to expand her views on mathematics instruction to include the importance of writing across the curriculum. Kathy remains fascinated by the many ways children need to demonstrate mastery and thinking, speaking, and writing mathematically remain foremost in her teaching. Asking students to put thought to paper forces them to pause, revisit the steps taken during the problem solving process, and articulate their thinking in a common language rich with mathematical terms and expressions. She also values her ability to reflect on her own professional practice and strives to develop those very same skills in her students as they work to provide evidence of continued growth and learning.
Her work with Dr. Suzanne Chapin, a Professor of Mathematics Education at Boston University, further influenced Kathy’s focus in the areas of critical problem solving, curriculum development and design, teacher professional development, and student self-advocacy in mathematics. It was also through her relationship with Dr. Chapin that she was introduced to publishing her work for the first time. A series of supplemental materials for classroom and home use entitled Mathematics Today, were written in collaboration with fellow graduates and teachers from the Curriculum and Instruction program at Boston University.
Currently, Kathy is employed by the Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Massachusetts as a Math Specialist for grades K-5. Her primary focus remains on mathematics teaching and learning, and creating and implementing creative ways to consistently combine the two in the classroom setting.