Starting off as a new teacher can be nerve-racking and stressful. Being a young teacher, you may be confident but you may also be equally nervous. When you start off your first year in school as a math teacher, it might be the most difficult year because you are new to teaching and not all students grasp the concepts easily.
Here are few tips for you to be an effective math teacher and make your math class exciting
1. Do not scare off your students on the first day
Be cheerful and confident on your first day at school. Do not scare your students by talking about complex math concepts on the first day itself. Instead, talk about your lesson plans and brush up the concepts that they have learnt in the past year. Students do make silly mistakes and ask ridiculous questions especially if they know you are a new teacher. But don’t take them personally. Establish ground rules at the beginning of the year and make sure that your students follow them too.
2. Keep your students informed about what you are going to teach in your next class
Imagine that one day, you are teaching your class about ratio and proportion. The next day, without rhyme or reason, you begin to teach them about profit and loss. With such an abrupt change in lessons, aren’t students going to be confused? Therefore, instead of springing new concepts on your students, always inform them about the next topic you are going to teach them. This way, students can mentally prepare themselves to make the transition from one topic to another.
3. Make the class interesting by changing patterns of teaching
How do you start your class daily? You enter the classroom; write down on the black board the names of concepts you are going to teach that day; start the class and end it. Doesn’t this pattern look way too traditional? When this traditional pattern of teaching is used over and over again students feel bored and lose interest to learn. So think of new ways to teach. Change the pattern of your teaching, involve students as examples during teaching, have a questioning session at the end of the class. Include fun activities related to the lessons done in the classroom. Conduct surprise tests and make your students assess their friends’ sheets. A change of teaching pattern keeps your class excited and interested. Students listen interestingly and always are ready for any change in teaching pattern.
4. Make groups during class
Make groups during your class. Ask one of the members from each group about their peers and test them about their level of understandability. Change the monitor of each group based on their score in surprise tests. Do not do this often, because students take time to adjust to change. Assign duties like assisting you in teaching a lesson, problem solving and helping their peers solve problems.
5. Identify problems faced by students
Through group monitors, identify and understand the problems faced by other students in the group. Ask the monitors to try solving the problems of their group members and if they could not ask them to report to you. This makes them feel responsible and carry out the given task and also helps you to know your students and their problems. You should try to interact with the students and solve their problems instead of sarcastically criticizing students who have low score in exams because your ultimate objective is to get rid of fear and instill love for math in your students.
6. Create a safe and interactive environment
Let your class be a learner-friendly classroom where students feel free to interact with you whenever they face problem with any of the concepts. Create a safe and interactive environment in your classroom. Initially, this may not be possible because being a new teacher you may face problems maintaining discipline in your classroom. But after you get to know about your students and their behavior, gradually you can encourage interaction in your classroom. It is important to interact with your students and personally know where they face problem.
7. Allow student involvement and validate their questions
When students are allowed to ask questions, they may ask you most inane questions. At times they may be doing this only to disturb the class. As a teacher you should be able to judge which student genuinely wants to know about the concept and who is just playing around. Validate their questions properly and let them know that you can help them even with their simplest doubts. After validating their questions ask them few more questions related to the same question to make sure that they have understood the concept.
8. Encourage new ideas from students
Once students get interested in the subject, they dive deep into it try to find new ways to solve different problems. Encourage new ideas from your students. If they are good enough use them in your class. Appreciate the student for their idea. If the idea is not good enough, do not discourage the student, encourage them to work more on it and come up with a good idea. Remember that students need your encouragement at every step.
9. Use real life examples wherever possible
Math consists of many different concepts therefore when you teach associate them with real life examples so that students can easily remember the concepts. Children lose interest in learning if they do not know why they are learning a concept. If they do not know the practical use of a particular concept, they lose interest in it. Therefore as a teacher it is your responsibility to teach them the importance of the concepts being taught in the class.
10. Short and well-structured practice
Students should be given time to practice what they learn in classrooms. It does not mean that they need long hours to practice the concepts that are taught in the class. The practice time should be short and well-structured so that they practice and solve problems from all the concepts taught in the classroom. Organize and allot a period in a week for practicing what they have learnt the whole week.
11. Keep some time aside to relax
Math is a weighty subject which sometimes makes students feel exhausted. It is vast and has many complex concepts. Students need some time to relax from the math-anxiety. Give your students some time to relax after you complete a concept. You too need some time to take your mind off those tricky concepts and formulae of math and relax for some time.
As a new math teacher what problems did you face and how did you overcome them? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments section below!