What are some of the pitfalls commonly made by math teachers? Here are some of the mistakes best avoided to keep math instruction effective.
They Stress Repetitive Practice
Rows upon rows of simple math problems aren’t an effective way to practice the true problem solving skills needed for mathematical thinking. Rather than having students repeat operations problems, focus on assigning complex multi-step problems that don’t require the application of just one mathematical principle. This creates more flexible thinkers who can problem solve effectively, not just individuals who can apply one principal at a time.
They Ignore Student Engagement
Student engagement is a huge marker of how well students will perform in the class. When engagement is high, students are actively engaged in learning. They learn and retain information better, and disruptive behavior is minimized. When engagement is low, students stop paying attention to the lesson. Minor misbehavior increases dramatically, as a function of student boredom. It’s important for math teachers to constantly monitor the level of engagement in the room, and to use tools like brisk pacing and high levels of student response to increase engagement when necessary.
They Don’t Use Technology
Technology like interactive whiteboards is a valuable resource for any classroom, but can be especially crucial to the mathematics classroom. It allows math teachers to show graphs, charts and calculations on a large screen. It easily incorporates internet videos and news clips into lessons, helping contextualize for students why math is an important subject to learn. In classrooms where a student response system is connected to interactive whiteboard technology, it gives math teachers real-time feedback of exactly which students have mastered concepts and which students need more practice to reach mastery. It allows teachers to present classroom practice in the form of a game, and to keep student engagement high. It’s an invaluable tool for the math teacher to use.
By avoiding these common pitfalls, math instruction becomes more relevant and meaningful to students. Math teachers who are aware and conscientiously avoiding these errors can expect better results in student achievement and engagement scores in their classrooms.