When working with teachers I love to take some time and have discussions and truly listen to what they have to say about various things. On my most recent trip, an Interactive Notebook Workshop for 6th-12th grade Math Teachers), that was no different.
I participated in a conversation at lunch about some of the concerns of students in middle school and high school when it comes to being prepared for the standards required and I was amazed that some of the many things that I was thinking about when I was in the classroom were shared by others.
What Concerns Us About Students?
While we were eating we started making a list of what we perceived to be some of the overall concerns our students were having and how it affected their problem solving abilities in secondary math.
- While in Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade, all subjects are typically taught by the same teacher who is in charge of not only making time to get all of the subjects in as required but also differentiate, modify, give benchmark testing multiple times per year and in multiple subjects all while juggling the needs of 20-30 students.
My Experience in Elementary
- Not all teachers are created the same. Different teachers have different strengths in their teaching and that shows in their students by what areas are typically more in depth and innovative because it is comfortable for the teacher. We also see a HUGE push for literacy in the younger grades which leads to help building mathematical comprehension eventually but also takes some of that precious time from building the foundation skills as those brains are forming in the younger grades.
Applying this to Secondary (Middle and High School)
- It takes time to master the standards of the grade level(s) that we teach. It is not important to just know what our students need to master in our classroom this year but also how it will affect them in the following years. Math has so many foundation skills that if students don’t master they will literally have gaps in their foundation that take years to fill in.
Building Upon those Math Concerns
I would love to hear what you are doing in your classroom to help build future mathematicians.