Meet Math Classroom Coach Phillip Auth

Austin Partners in Education recruits, trains and places volunteers into Austin area schools as Classroom Coaches. After volunteers select their preferred time, location and subject from the list on our website at www.ClassroomCoaching.org, they attend our training. We provide useful information and curriculum support materials so coaches will always be prepared to succeed. When the coaches get to their classroom it has been divided into small interactive groups of 2-3 students per coach. The teacher is always present while coaches work with the same group of students for 45 minutes a week. Last year we placed more than 850 volunteers as Classroom Coaches.

We are recruiting now for this year.

Our 8th grade Algebra classes have several openings. We thought hearing from one of our Math coaches might help you decide to help students at this very important point in their academic life.

Phillip Auth has coached Algebra two years in a row, and just registered for a third year. He was one of seventeen volunteers from Teachers Retirement System of Texas to coach last year. Born in a small town southwest of Chicago, Phillip joined the navy after graduating high school. He then went to college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of New Mexico. Before coming to Austin to pursue his MBA at UT, Phillip lived in San Diego, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boulder, Colorado; Barcelona, Spain; and São Paulo, Brazil.

(APIE) Tell us about your current job at TRS and what you do.

(Phillip) I work in the Investments Management Division. I analyze stocks in Emerging Markets outside of Asia, such as Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Russia.

Why did you decide to become a Classroom Coach?

I was looking for a way to give back to my community. Prior to volunteering with Austin Partners in Education, I volunteered at a middle school near my home, but wasn’t placed in a meaningful role. When TRS was looking for mentors in the fall of 2007, I asked about other opportunities. It was then I learned about Classroom Coaching and becoming a Math Coach.  It immediately sounded like a perfect fit.

What do you like about volunteering – what keeps you coming back for a third year?

I really like watching the kids progress, and feeling like I am having a positive impact.

What is one of your memorable experiences working with the kids?

During my first semester, I was at Webb Middle School. Both of my kids, and most of the classroom, were bilingual. When they started teasing each other in Spanish, I jumped in and told them in Spanish that I knew what they were talking about! I told them that I also spoke Portuguese, and, if they would work through their math problems, I would teach them some Portuguese. It turned out to be a big incentive and each class ended with a brief Portuguese lesson.

Sometimes we hear people say they are reluctant to coach math, it having been a while since they approached 8th grade math topics. What advice would you give them about coaching, and how it differs from tutoring and teaching?

Do not be afraid. First of all, Partners in Math provides training and gives each coach a notebook with all the information you need. Second of all, if you stumble on occasion I think it actually shows the students you are human too, and helps you bond.

Why should someone volunteer as a Classroom Coach?

I think being a Math or Reading Coach is very rewarding. More importantly, there is a huge need.   In 8th grade Math students are learning about percentages, area and volume. But they can still be confused by basic multiplication and division.   Without the help of their coach, some of these kids will not graduate from middle school much less high school.   Helping them better understand Math and Reading will be a foundation for all of the future success they have in life.

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About Austin Partners in Education

Austin Partners in Education is a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs to improve student academic performance.

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