Whether you are an experienced math teacher or a newly graduated student, take a moment to consider the most important rules of teaching math. Conscious educators, who follow carefully established plans, usually achieve better results than other teachers. The following rules can be considered as every math teacher’s guide to successful education:
Every plan should start with defining goals and, when it comes to teaching math, this rule is particularly important. Many math teachers commit a common mistake and consider preparation for upcoming tests as their ultimate goal. As important as successful completion of math tests are, focusing only on that will result in your students having a rather scrappy understanding of math as a whole. Children, who learn only how to pass math tests, know how to recognize and solve different types of math problems, but they do not have a bigger picture of math rules and how they apply to the world around us. Setting more ambitious goals, such as showing students the beauty of math, seems like a better idea. However, make sure that your goals are not too abstract and you can evaluate your own efforts. The best solution is to establish a hierarchy of goals, where presenting math as an interesting topic is the ultimate goal and preparing students for tests and upcoming challenges are one of many subgoals.
Focus on “why” instead of “how”
Explaining the procedure of solving math problems is only one step towards understanding the problem. If you want your students to comprehend the underlying rules of math and be able to adjust the procedure to different types of math problems, you need to focus not on “how”, but on the “why” knowledge. Procedures are best explained on concrete examples, but to understand why a specific procedure is applied, students need to know the axiomatic rules of math. Traditional math curricula employs a process called “spiraling” to ensure better understanding of math, however, this is not the most successful method. Spiraling means going back to covered math concepts every year. This method is time consuming because every concept has to be repeated and results in shattered knowledge, because students see no connection between issues covered last year and now. Singapore math revolutionized the classic methods of teaching math by providing careful explanations and illustrations of all math concepts in an orderly manner. Singapore math allocates more time to studying the basics and, thanks to that, students advance much faster and do not need spiraling to understand complex problems. Check different methods of teaching math, especially if you see that spiraling is not effective for your students.
Share your passion for math
Teachers, who do not feel passionate about their disciplines will have a hard time convincing kids that studying is fun. However, it is also difficult to avoid falling into a routine, especially if you have been working as a teacher for a while. To rekindle your passion for math, look for books with interesting math puzzles and fun math facts. They can serve as a good inspiration for math exercises. Enroll in math training for teachers to learn new methods and find new, interesting math tools.