3 Truths All Math Teachers Need to Hear Today


3 truths all math teachers need to hear today cover photo

We literally cannot do it all. There I said it.

I can't scroll through Facebook or Instagram without being inundated with all the tips and tricks and strategies that we must do in order to meet the needs of all learners.

I love new ideas. I love research and learning. But gosh, it's a lot right now!

Feeling the same way?

Read on as I share the 3 truths that you really need to hear today.

Try one new strategy at a time. 

You do not need to have a Pinterest-perfect classroom or Instagram-worthy lesson in order to be an incredible math teacher. Sure, there are lots of great strategies out there: flipped classroom, one-to-one technology, math centers, interactive notebooks, games. But the truth is, you cannot do it all. The last thing we want is for teachers to become overwhelmed and burned out. If you're feeling refreshed and inspired and ready to try something new, choose one strategy or activity to implement. Get really good at that one thing by trying it again and again with different topics. Train your students how to successfully participate in this one thing. Then, and only then, should you consider adding something else to your teacher toolbox. And if you're not feeling like you can add one more thing to your plate right now, then don't. I am giving you permission today to not change a darn thing. You are enough. The fact that you show up for your students every day and do the best you can is enough. That leads me to truth number two.

the last thing we want is for teachers to become overwhelmed and burned out

Positive classroom climate makes the greatest impact.

You can try every strategy under the sun, and if there isn't consistent two-way respect in your classroom, nothing will have the impact you're hoping for. Relationships between students and teachers are boss. Your students need to know that you care, they are loved, and they are safe. Ask your students about their interests and hobbies. Use growth-mindset language to convey that you believe in them. Create an atmosphere where students are comfortably able to take risks without the fear of judgement or ridicule. Positive classroom climate has the greatest impact on student success. There will be plenty of pressure to improve test scores and use more technology and try this latest, greatest, flashy teaching tool. But I am urging you to build a positive learning environment first. Take time to talk to your students about things other than math. Get to know their strengths and challenges. Reach out to families about successes, as well as challenges. Once this foundation is set, then everything else will fall into place.

students are loved image

Meet students where they are.

Math confidence is key to student motivation and engagement. Students who struggle, and are not given the proper scaffolding, are going to give up. Don't let this happen. Don't let a stringent curriculum and textbook shape the learning experience for your students. Determine the skills that your students are entering with and start there. This could be accomplished via a brief pre-assessment or teacher observations. Build student confidence by starting with what they know and building on that prior knowledge - even if they are not up to grade level yet. Start with the basics and climb from there. Make clear connections between concepts to help students make the leap. Maybe you feel like there's not enough time to teach skills that should have been mastered in previous school years. I am encouraging you to do just that. Teach what your students need. Once their foundation is strong and confidence is high, the rest of the year will flow much more easily. Build a math class that is equal parts accessible and rigorous. Show students that they can do it.

3 truths blog post pin for pinterest

So, math educator, will you let go of some of the pressure you're feeling please? Commit now to trying no more than one new strategy at a time, building a positive classroom climate first, and meeting students where they are starting. Do all of these things within your own comfort zone or just beyond it (scaffolding!). You've got this.

Comment below with other advice for teachers heading back to school this fall. What is a truth you want all math teachers to know?

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