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Meet Payton’s new math teacher: Ms. Haider

By Hadli Joyce, Contributor

Ms. Haider teaches Algebra II and Geometry.

All about the favorites:

The Paw Print: Where did you go to college and high school?

Ms. Haider: “I went to Depaul University in Chicago. I am from the north suburbs, Wilmette, Illinois, so I went to New Trier High School.”

The Paw Print: What is your favorite color?

Ms. Haider: “Yellow!”

The Paw Print: What is your favorite food?

Ms. Haider: “Cupcakes.”

The Paw Print: What is your favorite city?

Ms. Haider: “I think my favorite city would have to be the next place I would want to move, which would have to be Los Angeles.”

The Paw Print: Is there a city you’ve never been to but really want to visit?

Ms. Haider: “I have never gone skiing before and every single time I have this conversation, people are like, ‘What?’ It’s not like we grew up skiing. I feel like that’s how you get started. I would say Aspen because I would want to get the full experience of ‘I’ve been to Aspen; I’ve been skiing!’”

The Paw Print: What is your favorite sport?

Ms. Haider: “I would have to say hockey. Well, I am not really into sports, but my brother plays, so I am more invested in it.”

The Paw Print: If you didn’t teach math, what would be another subject you would want to teach?

Ms. Haider: “Probably cooking. I’ve always wanted to take a billion [cooking classes], but they’re so pricey. But that’s definitely something I would love to do!”

The Paw Print: What is your favorite grade to teach?

Ms. Haider: “Because I’ve only taught high school [classes], I think out of all the grades in high school, it would have to be ninth grade.”

Transition to Payton:

The Paw Print: Where did you teach before, what grades did you teach, and what subjects?

Ms. Haider: “I taught at Pritzker College Prep. I taught ninth grade Algebra I and Algebra II.”

The Paw Print: What has it been like to transition into Payton remotely?

Ms. Haider: “It is completely different. I knew that teaching at Pritzker and Payton were going to be different, but I don’t think the experiences are comparable because I haven’t met any of the staff or any of the students. It would have been different had I stayed at Pritzker, so the experience itself isn’t comparable. The teaching experience is different than any experience I’ve ever had. But in terms of the work at Payton, everything moves pretty quickly. That’s definitely something I noticed, it’s like ‘go, go, go.’ That’s the biggest difference.”

The Paw Print: Why did you choose to come to Payton?

Ms. Haider: “I wanted to stay at a school in Chicago and I wanted to have a different experience just to enhance my own professional experience. So while I loved being at Pritzker,  I was there for seven years. It was a really long time and I loved that school, which is why I stayed there for so long. That’s like my home. That’s my community. But when it comes to teaching something different, I wanted to teach different courses, which was not possible at my old school because our math department was so small and I couldn’t take over someone else’s position. So when I got the offer from Payton, obviously it’s a great school, and the students are so hard working. I figured that if I was going to move from a school that I loved, I wanted to go to a school that I really admired for a lot of the opportunities that they had there and I definitely am growing professionally through this experience.”

The Paw Print: What impact do you hope to have at Payton?

Ms. Haider: “I definitely want the classroom to feel like a community where the students can come whether they’re in math class or just wanting to hang out and talk. So, I think when you are at a school, it’s important to feel like it’s home because you spend over eight hours a day there, so while I know students are very stressed out, I want that when you step into the classroom, whether it’s for math or not, you know that you’re going to have a great experience there, feel like you’re included, and know that you will grow and learn at the pace that you want. So I think that’s the biggest impact that I’ve always wanted to make, is to make sure students feel safe and comfortable while they’re learning math in my classroom.”

The Paw Print: What led you to become a teacher?

Ms. Haider: “Just growing up in general. I should mention I grew up in Pakistan. When I moved to America, I did not speak English and I was like ‘What is this world that I’m in?’ Having the support that I did throughout growing up, through elementary school, and middle school, and definitely high school shaped who I am and I had my teachers to really thank for that. I stuck around in Chicago because my mom had cancer, but when I was at DePaul, one of the pros- even though I was like, ‘I don’t want to go here, I’ve been here my whole life’-  it was really nice that was I was able to go into a lot of schools to tutor math and I was like, ‘Wow! My experience is not the norm,” and I wanted to make sure students like me were really present in education and had a positive experience, which I knew wasn’t happening, so I became very invested in education. I started tutoring a lot, then I got certified in teaching mathematics and then loving teaching.”

Working With Equity:

The Paw Print: What experience do you have working for equity?

Ms. Haider: “It’s definitely very challenging to be a math teacher and have those conversations, because I feel like when you are teaching English or history, that conversation just arises a little bit more naturally, so I think first and foremost, being a mathematician is a privilege. Not everyone is able to engage in advanced mathematics in a way where they feel like, ‘I want to take this beyond high school.’ So I think that is one of my biggest goals and I think that’s the ambition of the math department that I really align with.”

The Paw Print: How do you hope to improve the classroom environment positively?

Ms. Haider: “The way the classroom is run, and again, we are virtual so maybe you can’t feel this yet: In the classroom I don’t feel like I am the person dictating class and I always hope that the group work and how students are running the class is representing them and their voice. So if they’re giving input and creating the classroom culture, and really telling me ‘this is what I want to see,’ I just want to make sure I’m facilitating that and making sure that that happens.”

Image courtesy of Huma Haider

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