Math teachers, have you noticed some problems in your classes? Are students bored, disruptive and failing to master critical math concepts? If so, it’s time to assess whether your classroom practices are effective or ineffective in today’s by asking four simple questions.
1. Am I incorporating enough technology into my lesson plans?
Interactive whiteboards with access to internet videos, games, and resources are a great way to pique student attention and to make math more relevant and contextualized. There are great websites like Gynzy.com that offer resource packages for math teachers, which helps save valuable planning time.
2. Is math practice in my classroom rote repetition or real-life problem-solving practice?
Teachers often think that what their students need is more practice, but practice without contextual relevance is often meaningless to students. Instead of having students complete a worksheet with 30 of the same type of math problem, give students realistic word problems that require them to consciously think about how best to solve them. They may have fewer problems on their homework, but the level of problem-solving they engage in will be much deeper.
3. Do my students know what it takes to be successful in my class, and whether they are meeting my expectations?
Teachers often think that these concepts should be self-explanatory, but it can be a mystery for many students. Giving students a clear goal helps define success, and charting or graphing individual and class progress towards that goal gives constant feedback to every student in the classroom. Without the teacher having to say a word, students that are on track to meet the goal feel accomplished, and students that need to step up their academic work are reminded of that fact.
4. Do I know whether my students are struggling with a concept before I formally assess it?
To effectively address all problems with student learning, teachers need to know almost as soon as a lesson ends which students understood perfectly, and which are still struggling with the material. The best way to do this is to use informal assessments like mini-quizzes, exit slips, and group work to check understanding and then re-teach troublesome concepts.
We hope these four questions have helped you evaluate your effectiveness. Keep up the good work.