Page 42

HH HOMEGROWN HEROES

IF THERE’S A MATH PROBLEM, YO, SIMON MACFARLANE CAN SOLVE IT. BETWEEN HIS UNORTHODOX METHODS AND ENGAGING PERSONALITY, THE BIXBY TEACHER IS CREATING MATHTERMINDS ONE RUBIK’S CUBE TWIST AT A TIME. BY LINDSAY MORRIS PHOTOS BY CHELSI FISHER Middle school — a period of time so many of us try to forget. Thankfully, in the midst of all the awkward changes, most of us had one or two teachers who made a huge impact and helped shape who we eventually became. That’s what Simon MacFarlane is to so many students at Bixby Middle School. He is that teacher who makes learning fun while teaching one of the most difficult subjects of all: math. Even before students enter MacFarlane’s classroom, they are greeted one-by-one with a high-five and usually a song floating out of their teacher’s mouth and down the hallway. “I’ve had a point of contact with every student before I take attendance,” MacFarlane says. Teaching math is no easy task, but for MacFarlane, it’s all fun. Difficult concepts are turned into songs — or even better, raps. Vanilla Ice (aka, MacFarlane dressed as a ‘90s rapper) makes an appearance to teach students about mathematical functions by rapping “Nice Nice Functions” to the tune of “Ice Ice Baby.” He even sets up a sound system and recruits students to be “hype men.”

42 MAY 2018

Simon MacFarlane MacFarlane is quite the YouTube sensation. He implements a flipped classroom where his students watch the lesson on their own, via YouTube, and do the lesson in class. His YouTube channel, The Mathtermind, is watched not only by his students but also by classes at other schools. When MacFarlane was growing up in Nuremberg, Germany, he knew early on that he would be a teacher. “Plan A was to become a professional basketball player, but Plan B was to be a teacher,” he says. Once, when his fifth-grade teacher was late to class, he went to the front of the room and began teaching the lesson. When the teacher arrived, she told him to continue, and he proceeded to teach the entire lesson. After receiving a degree in education with an emphasis in physical education from Oral Roberts University, MacFarlane taught physical education at Owen Elementary for one year. He then decided to return to Germany for a few years to help his mother after his father’s death.

Profile for Preview 918

May 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 5)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...

May 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 5)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...