Here are five considerations for setting yourself and your students up for mathematical success.Jan 19, 2023
Elementary teachers are true generalists; you are expected to teach all subjects and then some. Most are lucky if they had more than one math course as part of their initial credentialing process. Regardless, the responsibility of teaching and learning mathematics falls on you.
Elementary teachers are the foundation builders of a student's math journey. The learning of elementary mathematics directly connects to algebra readiness. Here are five considerations for setting yourself and your students up for mathematical success.
- You are a 'Math Person'! Believing in yourself and your students as mathematicians is a must. Make the time to get to know how your students see themselves as mathematicians. Then work to build and foster positive math identities within your students and also yourself. This will positively impact how students engage in the learning of mathematics. Hold and verbalize high expectations for all students to help create a positive classroom community, where learning happens together and from each other.
- Spend time doing the math. In order to support all of your students, you have to make sense of the math yourself and consider all the ways in which your students will solve the task or problems. Plan for those common misconceptions. Think about the questions students will ask or the explanations they will give. Try solving problems in as many ways as possible. Does the task allow for multiple entry points? Are there multiple strategies and/or representations that could be used to solve the task? Do my students see themselves in this math task?
- Model risk taking for your students. Math may not be at the top of your favorite subject lists, but math is everywhere in the world. Show students that it is okay to make mistakes and how we can learn from them. Share your unfinished thinking with your students. Model that thinking and taking multiple attempts to work through a task. Make it safe for your students to try and fail. Students mimic the behavior that you model. What structures do you have in place to encourage collective mathematical agency of the classroom?
- Spend some time making sense of and reviewing your grade-level standards, independently or with your team. Plan for providing just in time scaffolding, instead of reviewing. Look for the connections from previous grades and upcoming grades, and don’t make more work for yourself. Knowing the standards for your grade level will allow you to teach the mathematics concepts more deeply.
- Less is more! Quality over quantity! There is no required number of problems that must be completed each day. Choosing a small problem set or a math task that students will engage with across the class period allows them to dig deeper into math learning and goals. Learning happens when students have multiple opportunities to engage with a concept and/or strategy.