More often than not, I find myself visualizing my future classroom and how I will implement different strategies that accommodate to all student learning styles in my classroom. With that being said, I frequently think about my frustrations with mathematics and how to avoid making those same obstructions for my students.
This last semester, I was afflicted with one of my courses because I did not feel I was understanding the material. In addition, I felt as if the professor gave no disregard to the students who were in the same boat as myself. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sit down with this professor and discuss the problem at hand. Unknowingly at the time, this was going serve as valuable connection with teaching mathematics. The conversation highlighted the importance of accommodating all students learning styles and abilities while at the same time emphasizing the importance of challenging the students who are understanding at a high levels. This is something that had not occurred to me in the past and in recent times have found myself struggling to find the balance between students who are understanding mathematics at a high level versus those who are a little bit slower at understanding math.
The book Strength in Numbers does a good job in emphasizing that all students are capable of learning mathematics and can be pushed to learn mathematics at a profound level, despite their prior achievement or problems in the past. However, in order for students to understand mathematics at a deep level, Strength in Numbers states the importance that students need to see themselves in the subject in order to draw meaning that motivates them to desire an understanding of the topic at hand.
Strength in Numbers does a suitable job in underlining the important role teacher’s play in fostering a sense of belonging to help students’ progression in mathematics. However, I felt that the topic needed additional ideas and strategies to support teachers in facilitating students’ ability to see themselves in mathematics. This directed me to seek additional methods to help students visualize themselves in mathematics. In due course, I came across an article on edutopia, 9 Strategies for Motivating Students in Mathematics, by Alfred Posamentier. The article focuses on the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and highlighted numerous strategies to aid teachers in motivating students’ in mathematics. However, the strategies that I felt were of the most importance incorporated methods that promoted students aptitude to relate to mathematics and visualize themselves in the topic at hand. These strategies include the importance of teachers: indicating the usefulness of a topic, telling a pertinent story, and getting students involved in justifying their mathematical curiosities
By indicating the usefulness of a topic in a practical application could spark interest in students who have trouble visualizing how they will use this math in the future. Furthermore, telling a pertinent story can help students fantasize and dream about the topic at hand by putting themselves in a situation where they solved a problem pertaining to the subject. You know what they say, when you are not dreaming about something you’re not working for something. Hence, when students’ visualize themselves in a problem they are subconsciously becoming more comfortable with mathematics and the anxieties associated with the subject. Furthermore, by getting students more comfortable with mathematics they may become more interested in justifying and discovering their mathematical curiosities and ability. The teacher plays an important role by challenging the students who think that math is too easy or too hard. When people are challenged by someone, they tend to want to prove themselves or that person wrong.
In final analysis, in order to benefit and promote students’ mathematics ability at a high level, I will take these methods into account in my future classroom by forming mathematically amusing activities for students to participate with suggestively. Only when students become self-aware in mathematics then they are able to be pushed to learn mathematics more deeply and can be challenged to test their mathematical ability beyond their own expectations.