Welcome! I am so glad you have come across this post! My name is Julia Park and I am a senior at Millersville University! I am an Early Childhood Education major and I have learned so much so far! If you have a moment, feel free to check out my previous blog posts!
In my last post, I shared information about learning centers in math class! In this post, I will be reflecting on my mathematical journey. My experiences in math have really shaped the way I teach my students.
My Early Math Memories
I believe that early math experiences can really shape a child’s mindset towards mathematics. It has definitely shaped mine. Unfortunately, it has been a long journey of growing my interest in math, and I am still working on it!
When I was in elementary school, even up until my time at Millersville, math has been a huge struggle for me. I have grown up with the incredibly damaging misconception that you have to be a “math person” to excel in math. A lot of my peers had the same mindset, which made it even harder to let go of those limiting thoughts.
I discussed this in my growth mindset blog post, but “math people” do not exist! I have my own reasons as to why I thought there were math people, but children’s experiences often vary. I think my fixed mindset was formed from experiences with not-so-nice teachers, the pressure of time limits and the need for accuracy in class, and a lack of hands-on learning. Those are just a few ideas of why I think I have had a tough time with math and I will be discussing more ideas later in this post!
Although it was hard to get through math class sometimes, I am really grateful that I have had these experiences because I can learn from them and relate to my own students. I want my students to feel comfortable with asking for help and to know that it is possible to learn and grow in many ways!
Through my time as a student in math class, I have had many different experiences with a variety of teachers. I want to share the good and the bad of what I have gone through because I think it is beneficial for teachers to reflect on all experiences related to learning. We can take what we learn to inform our own teaching practices.
Positive approaches I have learned from teachers:
- Providing assistance outside of class
- Using a hands-on learning approach
- Giving time to practice skills in class
- Utilizing interactive math games
- Facilitating class discussions
- Being kind and encouraging when a student is struggling
Approaches of teachers that were difficult for me:
- Focusing on accuracy only and not effort
- Putting pressure on students to turn in extensive assignments with a limited amount of time
- Teaching new concepts too fast
- Using too many lectures and PowerPoint presentations
- Not having time to reflect on concepts in class
- Being intimidating when a student is struggling
Every student learns differently. These experiences are unique to me and not everyone will be able to relate to what I have taken from my past math classes. However, I think it is important to recognize that although one strategy might work for one student, it might not work for another student. This notion emphasizes the need for differentiation. I will be discussing differentiation more in the next section.
As I finish this semester at Millersville University, I am leaving with so many new ways of teaching math that I was not even aware of previously. I have a new passion for making math class fun and interesting for my students. The following are some examples of strategies I would love to incorporate in my future math class:
- My math instruction will be differentiated based on my students’ needs. I will monitor their progress through various assessments and observations to modify or individualize my instruction when needed.
- Hands-on learning will be included to increase the engagement and participation of my students. I want to make math fun and exciting!!
- Class discussions will be a huge part of my mathematics instruction. Discussions in math class promote a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts in children.
- I would love to try to use interactive notebooks to organize my students’ learning and create engaging experiences. I had not heard of these notebooks until this year and I love them!
- Technology, manipulatives, and children’s literature are just a few tools I plan on using to enhance mathematics instruction for my students.
- Parent involvement is very important for a child’s education and I will consistently keep in contact with families to increase this involvement.
- I am very passionate about modeling a growth mindset for my students. I want my students to believe in themselves and in their ability to grow.
- I will strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for my students. I want them to be comfortable with sharing their ideas and to not fear making mistakes. To do this, I will value effort just as much as accuracy.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned throughout my time at Millersville is that making mistakes is okay. I used to put so much pressure on myself to be perfect and know everything, but that is not healthy. Teachers are not robots made to feed information to students. Instead, we have a purpose to learn alongside our students and to welcome mistakes as learning opportunities.
I am much more comfortable now being honest with my students in moments of uncertainty. I would rather figure something out with them than provide them with the wrong information. It’s really fun to explore ideas with students and work together toward a common goal. These experiences with students are valuable and strengthen the student-teacher relationship. When children trust their teachers, they are more engaged, motivated, and feel an increased amount of comfort when reaching out for help and sharing their thoughts with others.
Check out my blog post about growth mindset to learn more about the importance of making mistakes and the value of having a positive mindset in math class!
I had a blast sharing my mathematical experiences with you all! I have grown so much through the years and I can’t wait to keep growing as I gain more experience. I hope you learned about some ways you can teach mathematics in your own classroom! Thank you for reading. I sincerely appreciate it!