Beyond the Red Pen: Meet Yousuf, Middle School Math

Meet Yousuf, a 7th and 8th grade Algebra teacher from Las Vegas, NV. He heavily uses digital assessments to measure student growth from both formative and summative assessments, and also loves student lunches. Read on to learn more about how he’s built relationships that create classroom motivation.


What is your current location?
Von Tobel Middle School.

What subject and grade (s) do you teach?
8th grade Pre-Algebra, 7th grade Accelerated Math

What is your favorite teaching accessory?
My iPad

Tips and tricks on making the best “teacher lunch?”
This might be controversial, but I think the student lunch is improving and teachers ought to try; plus, it’s so cheap!


What’s your favorite time to grade and why?
I like to leverage my iPad to do my assessments and grading.  Students take the assessment online (majority of them—both formative and summative).  This gives me a lot of data to properly assess the mastery and growth of students through curriculum and within standards.

What is your must have grading tool/utensil?
Microsoft Excel

How do you find grading “zen?”
I don’t try to get too lost in the mastery results.  It’s very important to keep in perspective how much the students have grown throughout a standard.

What is your super secret tip to grade faster that you wish all teachers knew?
Informal assessments are as important as formal assessments; plus, they can be done as your observe a student on the spot.  Have two to three simple criteria to grade all students.  You can use the grades for either tests or classwork grade.


What is one strategy that has worked to increase student motivation?
I greet every single student by name before they enter the class.  This creates a rapport between the teacher and the student, and not surprisingly, often the relationship becomes the motivation for the student to try harder.  There is no better feeling than knowing that a struggling student is willing to work harder just because of the relationship he/she has with you.

What is the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t take it personally!


Do you have specific teaching shoes? If so, what are they?
Skechers Soft Sole—my shins don’t hurt!

What’s the last thing you bought for your classroom?
Jolly Ranchers!

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