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Tips For New Math Teachers

by Gisele Glosser
Try not to frown on wrong answers. It discourages students from participating. Critical thinking and honest effort are more important than correct answers.
There is no teaching without control of your class. It is better to fall behind by a day or two early in the year to address discipline, than to have an uphill battle all year long over behavior.
Avoid talking over your students. If there is too much noise in the classroom, sometimes the best thing to do is to stop talking. (I am famous for the "Glosser Glare".)
Routine and structure are good, but too much of it can cause you and your class to fall into a rut. Try to vary activities from time to time.
Encourage active participation from your students. From time to time, call students to the board, or allow them to work in groups. Avoid giving teacher-directed lessons all of the time. (See our article on Cooperative Learning Techniques.)
Try to be flexible. Math can be a rigid topic, but you don't have to be. For example, I have a strict rule against chewing gum. But I close my eyes to it during a test.
Try to spell out what topics will be on the test. Telling your students to "Study Chapter 6" is not enough, especially if they have poor study skills.
In some schools, math is the only subject where students are grouped by ability (i.e. homogeneously). This makes it stand out more than other subjects. Parents may frequently ask: "Why didn't Johnny get an A in math? He got one in all his other subjects." Some parents may insist that their child be placed in the top math group, even when the child does not belong there.
If a student was present for all the material taught, but is absent on the day of the test, then on the day the student returns, inform him/her of the make-up day and time. Don't let it go more than a day or two. However, if the student missed part or all of the material taught, you should give him a deadline by which to make up all missed work, and a new test date. It may be helpful to contact the parent in this case. A student should not be penalized for being absent. However, they can be penalized for failing to make up missed work.
I recommend a technique called "Front Loading". Students are most motivated to learn at the beginning of the school year. Rather than reviewing material from the previous school year, why not introduce a topic they haven't seen before?
Try to teach students good problem-solving skills. When your students enter the work place, their superiors will not give them a worksheet with 25 least common multiple (LCM) exercises. They will more likely have a scheduling problem that needs to be solved using LCM concepts.
To motivate students, give out awards for both good academics and for good effort.
Do your best to be fair to students. You will earn their respect this way.
It is important to get support from a school administrator when it comes to difficult issues such as math groupings. Ask that they be present at conferences with difficult parents.
The best motivator of all is connecting math to the real world. For example, when teaching the metric system, have students bring in empty cartons and bottles from their kitchen.

This article is by Gisele Glosser. You can find me on Google.

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Last Modified 05 Mar 2015