Dylan Coats experiences consistent joy in the classroom

Published 5:00 am Friday, January 26, 2024

By Emily Burleigh

Iowa High School mathematics teacher Dylan Coats, 32, is certain everyone can be good at math. It is the effort that makes a difference.

This is his educator’s philosophy, and he is happy to take on the job of helping students become confident in their math skills. From “lightbulb moments” to taking advantage of every opportunity to help students navigate complex mathematical concepts, Coats experiences consistent joy in his classroom.

“It’s not unusual for some students to face challenges in grasping mathematical concepts, and witnessing the breakthrough when it suddenly clicks in their minds is truly the most fulfilling and gratifying experience in the world. Seeing a student work with me, overcome obstacles and thrive is an indescribable and rewarding experience.”

It was never his intention to become a teacher, but his profession found him while he was in graduate school. He graduated from Barbe High School in 2011 and subsequently attended McNeese State University. There, he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. During his time as a graduate student, he was granted the opportunity to work as a tutor for McNeese’s mathematics department.

“It was in this role that I discovered the gratification of sharing the world of mathematics with others, especially witnessing students struggle with a concept or topic. The sense of pride in the student’s success and being the one to facilitate their understanding of this beautiful subject solidified my path towards becoming an educator.”

He is six years into his degree. His first three years as an official teacher were spent at McNeese’s math department, but when a chance to work for the Calcasieu Parish School Board as a teacher in the VIP Program — a program in which teachers provide simultaneous instruction to students at multiple high schools — Coats took it.

Now, his current educational home is Iowa High school, where he has taught for two years and “hopefully many more years to come,” he said. There, he teaches math for each high school grade level, specifically freshman Algebra 1, junior and senior Algebra 3 and Dual Enrollment math.

Despite the challenges attached to a career as a teacher, he truly loves his job.

“Being an educator is not a glamorous job and requires long hours outside of school; however, for me it’s all worth it to see my students’ success, to see my students flourish and to show them math is not as scary as most may think.”

Coats makes an active effort to create an “enjoyable and somewhat relaxed rapport” with his students in a safe, welcoming and warm environment.

“Creating a space where students feel comfortable is of the utmost importance, particularly when dealing with a subject that poses challenges for many. My goal is to create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions and are unafraid of the possibility of not getting things right on the first try.”

He knows math isn’t for everyone, so he uses humor to keep the energy up during lessons.

“This approach helps me to capture and maintain students’ attention for extended periods, with the goal of establishing connections like the meaningful ones I had with my former teachers.”

He had several teachers who were pivotal to his education and growth, he said. One of the hurdles he had to overcome in school was dyslexia. His teacher at Prien Lake Elementary, Mrs. Fuselier, provided him and his mother with extra support to help him build foundational literacy skills. He strives to emulate her dedication and kindness every day.

He attributes his love for math and science to his middle school physical science teacher Mrs. Phenice, who fueled his curiosity, and high school math teachers Mrs. Becton and Mrs. Johnson.

“Their enthusiasm for mathematics was infectious, and their passion for the subject left a lasting impression on me.”

He encourages every future educator to choose a subject that ignites passion.

“When you genuinely love what you teach, the effort and dedication you put into your work will always be worthwhile. Passion serves as a force that not only keeps your enthusiasm but also enhances the impact you can have on your students’ learning.”