Tips for Math Teachers
The best math teachers excel at infusing creativity into an otherwise structured subject matter. The following tips for math teachers will help you keep the subject you're teaching exciting, and will help you consistently get the best out of your students:
1. Create Hands-On Learning Experiences
Make your math class fun by creating games designed to reinforce previously-taught math skills. Not only will this practice engage your students and keep them interested in the material, but it will also increase their self-confidence and help them to see themselves as competent learners.
2. Use Real-Life Examples Whenever Possible
Don't just toss out numbers to your students and have them compute them. Put the work into context by giving them real-life examples of how and when they will need to repeat similar functions in their day-to-day lives. For example, teach your students how they will need to use math skills at the grocery store, during sporting events, and while on vacation.
3. Help Your Students Make Sense of What They Are Learning
Make sure that you provide a context for each new skill you are teaching. In addition, because math is often taught in a spiral fashion, with each new skill equipping the learner for the next skill that will be introduced, make sure that your students understand where the new skills you are teaching fall in relation to what they already know. This will not only make the subject matter more interesting, it will also help your students to effectively remember new skills.
4. Encourage Group Problem Solving
Create opportunities for your students to solve complex problems together whenever possible. This not only fosters cooperation, but it also allows peers to coach and instruct one another, which can be extremely helpful to students who haven't quite grasped certain concepts yet.
5. Help Your Students Identify the Source of Their Most Common Mathematical Mistakes
Often, students will make the same types of mistakes over and over, because they do not fully understand one component in solving the problem. As a math teacher, you can help your students improve their scores just by pointing out how they are making the error, rather than just marking a problem right or wrong.
6. Recognize Stereotypes
Unfortunately, stereotypes surrounding student performance still exist, and as a result, you may have students whose self-perception inhibits their best performance in your math class. Therefore, be careful correcting students, and make sure to encourage all of your students – boys and girls, alike – so that they learn to believe in themselves and in their own abilities.
7. Incorporate Different Learning Experiences
Higher-level math classes have traditionally involved a lot of note-taking. However, this type of teaching will not suit the learning styles of all of your learners. Therefore, be sure to mix up your approach regularly, by allowing hands-on and real-life learning experiences whenever possible.
8. Provide Comprehensive Study Guides Prior to Math Tests
Avoid the tendency to merely remind your students which chapter or section of their textbook to focus on. Instead, provide your students with a comprehensive study guide before each test, with examples of each type of problem they will encounter.
9.Make Homework Consistent and Valuable
Don't assign homework just to assign it. Make the experience count by giving your students homework that reinforces new skills, allows them to maintain previously-mastered concepts, and requires them to explore how what they are learning applies to their day-to-day lives.
Years ago, math was viewed as a structured discipline that left little room for creativity or varied instructional techniques. Today's math teachers, however, realize that giving students many different opportunities to practice and apply the skills they are learning helps them to retain new knowledge and increase their self-confidence.