Math equals fun.
That’s the message championed by Dr. Matthew Beyranevand, Fitchburg State University visiting professor and coordinator for the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Public Schools K-12 mathematics department.
“I have always had a passion and excitement when I teach math or speak about math,” he said. “If you’re not excited and passionate about math, why are the kids in front of you going to care about it? That’s one of my core beliefs. They come into it with a pre-disposition that math stinks.”
Dr. Beyranevand also utilizes his infectious personality to share his philosophy with the masses via his website, MathWithMatthew.com.
“I was trying to find a way to broaden my message and my ideas about math,” he said. “One way is teaching future teachers about the way to love and appreciate math.
“Another part of it was finding a way to reach a different audience. I do that with math music videos on the website. It was another way to be able to share that message about joyful mathematics and have students participate in the process.”
But that’s not all of the equation. Dr. Beyranevand is also set to release his third book, Partnering With Parents in Elementary School Math, in February 2021.
“An editor of a company who had been reading my blog posts on my website approached me,” he said. “They wanted to do a book deal with me. I thought that was amazing. They offered me a three-book deal. At first, I didn’t think it was real.”
Dr. Beyranevand also wrote Teach Math Like This, Not Like That (2017) and Adding Parents to the Equation: Understanding Your Child’s Elementary School Math (2019).
“The first two books did pretty well,” he said. “A lot of people have learned from them and changed their perspective about education and the way we teach math, which is my ultimate goal.”
Point of Origin
After growing up in Acton, Massachusetts, Dr. Beyranevand planned on forging a career as a financial analyst before he landed a teaching assistant position at Ithaca College. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management with minors in finance and economics in 1999.
“When I finished college, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do,” he said. “My father, Ali, told me that he was a middle school math teacher for one year after he graduated from college and loved it.
“I enjoyed being a teaching assistant, loved math and was pretty good at it. So, I became a middle school math teacher for a year. I loved the subject and the kids and the interactions. I said, ‘That’s my passion. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.'”
Dr. Beyranevand graduated with an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in mathematics education in 2003 and an Ed.D. in mathematics education in 2010 — both from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell.
“Once I realized that I loved teaching and wanted to do more, I started working on higher degrees,” he said. “I didn’t do it for any sort of job promotion. I did it so I could be the best that I could be in my role as a teacher.”
It was also a decade ago that Dr. Beyranevand began serving as an adjunct professor at UMass Lowell and Fitchburg State, where he teaches in the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching program.
“I wanted to make a bigger impact,” he said. “I had to decide if I wanted to become a university professor or stay within K-12 education. I chose the second path and became a mathematics department coordinator but still able to prepare future teachers at the higher-ed level.
“I have focused my whole professional career on a lot of the things I first started off with as a math teacher, which is finding a way to make math joyful within the field of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]. Kids authentically enjoy being in those classes.”
In the 10 years that Dr. Beyranevand has taught at Fitchburg State, he has seen the Department of Education grow and embrace online delivery of degree programs.
The flexibility of teaching online helps him have the bandwidth for all of his endeavors and still spend time with his wife, Valerie, and their kids — Emily (13), Alexander (11) and Nicholas (8). He teaches about six courses each year at Fitchburg State.
“I can do a lot of the work when I have free time,” he said. “My kids go to bed around 8 o’clock. So, I can spend a couple of hours afterwards doing my higher education work or working on writing.
“Online instruction allows me the freedom to work when I want to do it, as opposed to a pre-scripted time where you always have to be driving somewhere at a set time. With the COVID-19 restrictions, it’s become more popular than it has ever been before.”
Dr. Beyranevand values his experiences teaching in the education department at Fitchburg State University.
“The faculty is the most collaborative group of educators that I have ever worked with. It is truly an honor to play a small role in the great work of preparing educators at Fitchburg State.”
Although Dr. Beyranevand enjoys teaching at the college level, he also loves having his finger on the pulse of secondary education, updating his website, writing and speaking at conferences.
A three-time national finalist for student Congressional Debate, he is also a Global Math Project ambassador, supporter and member of the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council.
“I enjoy being in school, working with teachers and students,” he said. “I like to do what I do there and make an impact at the higher education level. I want to know what is going on in schools and be a practitioner.”
Most of all, Dr. Beyranevand plans to continue to find as many ways as possible to share his passion for math and prove that it equals fun.
“Some people freely say things like they hate math or can’t do math and seem proud of it,” he said. “I’ve been working to change that culture involving mathematics, both from an aspect of student interest and teaching for understanding, as opposed to memorization.
“The new book is about informing teachers, parents and the community about how and why we teach math and the reasons behind it and how we can make it joyful.”