BELIEVE THAT YOUR STUDENTS CAN
EVERYONE NEEDS TO FEEL RESPECTED
- Students need to know that their mathematical ideas and efforts are valued.
- Students need not to be ridiculed for making mistakes. (My 6th grade teacher did that to me 😔)
- Students need to feel that they belong. And should feel safe when taking risks with mathematical tasks.
ALWAYS HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS
I have very high expectations for my students, but I have even higher expectations for myself. In my many years of experience, I have learned that even my most struggling students tend up to live to my high expectations. The best part of that, is that the other students’ perceptions of them reflect those expectations.
It breaks my heart when parents excuse their children’s poor math performance, by saying that the child’s difficulties are the result of their (the parents) own lack performance as kids. As if poor math performance was an engraved trait in our genes!
Come on, we can do better!
And it all begins with high expectations… in my book, they are the one true size fits all.
SUPPORT ALL LEARNERS
Holy cow this is a BIG one. If we are going to talk about being fair and equitable with our students, we really need to focus on knowing if we are providing equal access for ALL of our students.
And not only in math, but in every single subject.
Providing fair access to the curriculum is hard, it takes time, energy, and YOUR own money. Not every school system has the means to provide a differentiated set of materials to reach every single student. It is up to the teacher’s knowledge of her/his craft, AND knowledge of her/his students to do so.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
I have left the best for last. To quote Laney Sammons from Guided Math A Framework for Mathematics Instruction:
“Communication is at the heart of mathematics -to clarify thinking, to express ideas, to share with others, to justify processes, and to explore relationships.”
Teacher friends, we have to value the social aspect of learning.
Let me list a couple of instructional procedures that will ensure math talk in your classroom:
- Make sure to take the time to model how to communicate math ideas.
- Always consider and respect other’s ideas.
- ALL students should know that there is often more than one way to solving a problem.
- Students must understand that mistakes are opportunities for learning and improvement.
- When doing math talk, students should know to focus on the actual math, and NOT just focusing on pleasing the teacher.
OK teacher friends, I hope I have given you some starting points to reflect on your own math community.
How are you promoting math culture in your classroom and in your own building?