5 Simple Strategies For a Math Attitude Makeover

Thursday, August 16, 2018
Welcome to Chapter 1 from Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies That Change Student Attitudes and Get Results by Judy Willis! One thing that struck me about the title this week is that is says learning to love math; meaning it can be taught and attitudes can change because everyone can learn!

 We all have students who have a hatred towards math. Willis discusses reasons why this poor attitude comes about. These are things like teaching ideas in isolation without real-life applications and generalizations and changing expectations each year. Parental views and expectations also play a big part in attitude. Teaching style is another big factor. Lecture is seen as bad where hands-on, interactive activities are viewed more positively by students. All of these things should be sounding familiar. But how do we change these attitudes?

 There are 5 strategies meant to foster positive attitudes. (I am going to put some together).

1. Students need to feel comfortable in their learning environment and feel comfortable with taking risks. Enlist the help of parents to add more math into a student's at home life to reinforce concepts. As students are fostered with a positive math environment at home and at school, they will succeed more and see the usefulness of math in their lives.

 2. One at school strategy is retesting. Since math builds upon itself, students need to achieve a mastery level before moving onto the next subject. Students need to show the corrective action so they take the retests seriously. Here is a great idea and graphic to explain this process to your students and I love the concept of applying for a retest with older students.

 3. Next is demonstrating that math is valuable and that you care about your students. I am blessed to teach a consumer math class where everything we learn can be applied to the students lives. But, they STILL don't understand the value in what I am teaching and are disinterested. My students know that I care about them. It is much easier for me than most because I am fairly close to their age so I find that 90% of the time it is easy for me to form a good rapport with each student. Willis suggests a math autobiography where students can explain their previous math experiences (and don't we always try to get more writing in math!) with extra emphasis on positive experiences.

 4. Finally, have students assess you. This may seem scary, but as something that I have done in my classroom since my first year, you get over what the students may say about you and hopefully there is much more good than bad! Have students grade you in different areas. I often have my students critique a lesson, give input into topics they want to learn, and tell the good bad and ugly about my teaching and the class. Just remember to take it and improve on yourself.

 Which one of these strategies do you currently use in your room or would be willing to try? Comment below to be entered in the giveaway (details here)!

One really scary statistic that Judy Willis points out is that only 42 percent of people could calculate a 10% tip! That's over half the people in the polling sample and a very basic skill. Helping our students realize that the skills we teach are important will help their attitudes as well.


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