by Claire Miller
Nermin Bayazit was born into a family of educators.
Growing up, her mom taught elementary school and became a principal, while her father worked for the Department of Education in Turkey and her only sister became a chemistry teacher.
Not only was she surrounded by family members who were teachers, but as the daughter of a principal, she and her immediate family lived on the school campus where her mother worked. For some, this would be enough reason to pursue a degree in just about anything else; for Bayazit, this was only the beginning of her love for teaching and learning.
“I was born and raised on an elementary school campus,” she explained. “And when I started school, I was always helping my friends with their classes. In fourth grade, I was tutoring my friends in mathematics when we were studying multiplication tables. I remember it very clearly.”
Like her mother, she attended a high school that specialized in teacher training, where students were expected to take classes in traditional subject areas but also attend classes about the practice of teaching. From there, she was accepted into a teacher education program at Middle East Technical University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 2002 and 2004, respectively.
Bayazit first came to the U.S. in 2004, when she started her doctoral program at Florida State University. She graduated in 2009 and accepted a job as a clinical assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology.
In looking for a job at a university, Bayazit was keen to find a place that worked and partnered with the local school systems, and Georgia State University fit the mold.
“One of the things I really wanted was a connection to the local school system, and Georgia State had that,” she explained. “The college had just received the $13.5 million Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) grant and had so many partnerships with schools, and I thought, they have all these connections I was looking for and a lot of different programs.”
Since joining the faculty, Bayazit has become coordinator of the COE’s online master’s degree in mathematics education. The program is designed for people who are already teaching math at the middle or high school level who can’t make it to campus every day for classes. As such, the program has attracted Georgia residents, national and international students, who can gain a deeper knowledge of their subject area and learn about how math is taught in other countries.
This cross-cultural learning experience and its real-world applications paralleled one of Bayazit’s research projects in college, when she studied engineering and other professions that used math on a regular basis. Coupled with her graduate teaching job in the math department, which served engineering majors, she began to focus her studies on the real application of mathematics in different professions.
Similarly, her research also focuses on the best ways for teachers to teach mathematics to their students – the practical strategies they can use in the classroom every day. She’s applied for a grant to work with teachers in local schools to enhance their knowledge base and to help them improve the areas they’re struggling to teach, and has served as a coach-in-residence for local teachers involved in the NET-Q project.
“Mathematics knowledge for teachers is different from just knowing mathematics – they’re two different phenomenon,” she said. “Developing specific strategies for teaching math is a new part of our field that I’m really interested in.”
Bayazit is also finishing up a research project with COE Assistant Professor Stephanie Behm Cross, where they followed a group of COE students from their practicum to graduation and into their new classrooms. This research highlights how the students apply the teaching practices they learned at the collegiate level to their own classrooms – the results of which Bayazit and Cross will present at the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference this year.
It’s this direct work with students and understanding what they need to know to teach mathematics that makes Bayazit’s job so fulfilling.
“Working with the students is the best part of my job, particularly knowing that they are either practicing teachers or future teachers,” she said. “That makes all the work we do worth it.”
For more information about the online master’s degree in mathematics education, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/6291.html.