We are excited to introduce Mr. Grant Norcross, one of our middle school math Subject Expert Teachers (SET). Mr. Norcross will teach Algebra I/Geometry and Algebra II/Geometry.
“I look forward to the start of the school year this August,” expressed Mr. Norcross. “Mathematics has undeniable connections in everything we do. I am excited to share with students how to solve complex problems in mathematics, and how to carry this skill into their other disciplines.”
We sat down with Mr. Norcross to ask a few questions and introduce him to our community.
Please share your background with us so our families can get more acquainted with you.
I was born and raised in Scotland, where I lived and worked until the summer of 2016. As a high school student, I had great relationships with my teachers, specifically my physics and math teachers. Seeing an adult working in a profession that felt the same way that I did about these technical subjects and the way they were able to make connections with students was amazing. This really prompted me into teaching from a young age. I attended the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and studied Marine Engineering. While at university, I took several math courses; the lecturers and teaching assistants we worked with were inspirational. They made teaching seem like a fun and exciting job.
I have a Marine Engineering Degree and a Professional Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education (Middle and High School Grades). I met my wife who is from Kirkland while teaching at a small private school in Scotland. We have ultimately made the Pacific Northwest our home. I previously taught at Willows Preparatory School as the grades 7, 8, and 9 math teacher, delivering courses equivalent to Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. I also served as the International Baccalaureate coordinator during my time at that school. Currently, I am the Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry teacher at the Jewish Day School and have seen the arrival and growth of BASIS Independent Bellevue across the field.
What drew you to BASIS Independent Bellevue?
Upon researching BASIS Independent Schools, I found an interesting contrast to the type of programs I have taught at previously. The idea of a deeply rigorous curriculum combined with accountability for teachers and students, plus the freedom for Subject Expert Teachers on the delivery of content, appealed to me. BASIS Independent Schools provide a structure to work within while enjoying autonomy in the classroom. This balance is attractive to me because I can build student confidence and capability more so by having the opportunity to elevate their critical thinking.
What excites you most about being a founding teacher?
The idea that you have so much potential in a founding year! This is a great opportunity to make something important for students and the broader Bellevue community while focusing on learning and development. I am confident this will be a positive experience, and participating in the process of turning the potential in each classroom into something worthwhile for everyone is especially exciting!
What resources do you anticipate using in the classroom?
The math courses at BASIS Independent Bellevue will use level-appropriate SAVVAS curriculum. Depending on the level, I will enhance these resources with my own experiences and some reputable websites for extension and reinforcement. In my classroom, I emphasize the communication of mathematical reasoning, making logical connections, and considering real-life applications whenever possible. I am often influenced by the teachings of cognitive load theory and cognitive apprenticeship. We have to think about breaking a problem down and using careful communication to better understand what we are attempting to achieve. The SET can then slowly back off their input and build independence in their students. I always offer perspective from both in and outside the classroom that encourages students to find value in expressing their meaning using the appropriate techniques and skills. Together we develop their communication in math, and create routines to enhance the way they approach academic and real life problems.
What is your goal for each student?
You will see connection and growth in my classroom. I focus on connecting with the students individually and developing a growth mindset in math. I am all about the mutual understanding that we are here for each other. It's important for me to show the relevance of what we are learning, and for them to help me reflect upon and develop worthwhile classroom experiences. With each topic, we learn and develop our techniques for analysis and skills for communicating our reasoning. Ultimately, I hope to apply this approach to big problems with real world relevance. It is important for students to view their progress in math as a growing skill set that can be practiced and coached. They need to be OK with where they are and should always be striving to push themselves in a supportive environment.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy climbing, camping, mountain biking, canoeing, and time with my family. We enjoy everything outdoors that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Skiing is another activity I love in the winter, too!
Are there any clubs that you have led or may consider leading at BASIS Independent Bellevue?
I have led a bike club, climbing club, and taught basic bicycle maintenance in recent years. I look forward to seeing what our students will be interested in creating for after school activities at BASIS Independent Bellevue.
BASIS Independent Bellevue is a private school opening fall 2022. We will open with Grades 2 - 7 to start and add a grade level each school year as we expand to a full middle and high school (Grades 5 - 12).
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