Pandemic Learning, One Year Later: Meena Boppana, Math

Math teacher Meena Boppana has approached teaching in the pandemic (and her first year at Commonwealth!) with ingenuity and grace. She skillfully adapted to the hybrid learning model and discovered digital tools that help deepen her students’ understanding. Ms. Boppana’s passion for engaging students through practical applications of math led to an exploration of COVID-19 data in her Calculus class. Read on to learn more about this innovative assignment and Ms. Boppana’s deep respect for her students—many of whom she is just now meeting in person for the first time.

What do you love most about teaching at Commonwealth?  

Of course, the students and the curiosity that they bring. As a new teacher this year, I have always felt that trust between students and teachers is strong. We always assume best intent in both directions. The class sizes also give room for personalized learning and interaction. In my three-person statistics class, activities have often been tailored to the interests of those three girls. It leads to a certain informality where I can just be myself, even when teaching.

What hybrid-learning adaptation(s) do you think you'll continue using post-pandemic? 

My favorite hybrid learning tool that I hope to keep post-pandemic is the use of graphing technology during class. Desmos is a powerful online graphing tool, and being able to quickly toggle between Notability (where I take notes on iPad) and Desmos has allowed students to more easily visualize the math that we are describing. 

What did you learn about your students over the past year/during hybrid teaching? 

Learning more about my students while in hybrid mode has been important to me this year, especially since I didn't know anyone beforehand. My favorite was an icebreaker at the beginning of the year where students optionally had to submit baby pictures of themselves for the class to guess.

What is your favorite project/assignment/topic you teach and why? 

I had fun designing a project in calculus 2 where students had to model COVID rates of transmission using a differential equations model based on a real model used in epidemiology. I wanted students to realize how what they were learning was applied in the real world. 

What was your favorite class in high school? 

My favorite class in high school was probably economics, because it combined my interests in math and the humanities in a fun way.

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