What Do You Believe About the Subject You Teach?
By Janet Price
ISA Senior Director of Programs
Math is often a student’s most dreaded subject. Students are sometimes told that you are either “math-minded” or you are not, and this leads many to the belief that they will never be able to excel at math. So what is a brand-new math teacher to do in the face of such self-defeating thoughts?
One such teacher, one who excelled at math in graduate school, had to ask himself that question. Classroom management and instruction were imposing challenges, and his struggle with them diminished the impact of his teaching.
With the assistance of ISA math coach Nathan Dilworth, he gained insight about his own teaching style. Coaching had shown him that his beliefs about math, teaching, and his students impacted how he taught, from the questions he asked to the way he presented lessons. This breakthrough gave him the insight he needed to begin changing his management style to cultivate relationships with his students and make them the focus.
When students became the leaders in the classroom, he noticed the change in engagement. The mood improved, and so did students’ results. When students believe their teacher is invested in bringing out the best in them, they feel motivated to learn – even in subjects that were previously challenging.