Best Practices for a Maths Teacher.

By Teacheranjani | Jun 26, 2015

What would be the top ten best practices for teaching Maths at the Primary and Middle level in schools to ensure highest level of understanding by the students.

Teacheranjani's picture

A common stress factor for teachers is to worry about the 'syllabus completion'. By the time we are 3 to 4 months into the academic year, we all begin worrying about not doing enough and at the right pace.

I would like to first look at 'syllabus completion' as an issue. This is a relative term. As Maths teachers we know and understand that it is not just about the teacher walking into a class and delivering a lecture on the content of a Unit. Unless all your students are with you, it is difficult to proceed with the further Units. Nevertheless there is a plan to adhere to and we have to do justice to all levels and types of learners in the classroom.

In my experience as a Maths teacher a few Best Practices got evolved/learnt from peers and I would like to share these.

Crisp and effective lesson plans well before your sessions, with a Plan B, in case your Plan A doesn't seem to be working in the class. This will allow speed and effectiveness in your work.
Make notes of what is working and what is NOT working in your classrooms. Create your own abbreviations to take brief quick notes in your Lesson plan manual.
In a classroom session it is all about getting your students engaged from the first second itself. Your hook for the class should be again planned carefully - it may be an interesting video, question in a story form, a puzzle or an activity.
Plan well for and take timely actions for the students who lag behind in any session. Especially in Maths, if you have lost a student in terms of understanding the concept, you have lost him for the next sessions too. Here I would like to mention one of my senior teachers who would be surrounded by students in the break also, seeking clarity on concepts from her which they missed in the class. Her high empathy level, kindness and passion for teaching Maths inspired me.
Last but not the least, at the end of a week/fortnight or month, do a critical analysis of your own work. Figure out all that went wrong and fix it with the help of the right people or source.

phelinelephant's picture

First of all there are no “ten” “best” practices. We can discuss what can be a “good” practice and how we can judge if a practice is good or not. Below are 10 practices, I consider to be “good”:

1. Always start with something concrete and then abstract out - every concept in math, starting from the numbers are abstract ideas, they develop over time, playing with concrete material helps developing them

2. Ask a lot of why and how to know how your students are thinking - this is particularly important if they have made a mistake

3. Let children explore first to deepen their understanding of concepts

4. Encourage children to come up with different strategies of solving a problem and provide opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of each strategy

5. Bring algorithms only when necessary i.e.
a. after they have grasped the concept
b. when they need to it faster
c. also point out where they are really needed

6. Make sure you know why things are done in a certain way,
a. in particular why the algorithms work the way they do
b. why are they not done in other possible ways

7. Try to problematize as much as possible instead of giving away the answer or the process

8. Have multiple explanations - if a child doesn’t understand one way, repeating it won’t help

9. If the children ask for an explanation and you don’t know, find out and tell them later - s/he just gave you an opportunity to learn something

10. Have planned work so that the students can work on their own, while you can focus on those who really need you - worksheets and workcards help a lot

Hope this helps!

Teacheranjani's picture

Dear Ms Swati Sircar, thanks a lot for sharing your ideas on Best practices. They are indeed insightful and quite do-able.
A compilation of such Best Practices would give us a good collection but the idea was if the teachers could just keep the "Top Ten Best Practices" in their heads while engaging their students, it would be most helpful
Thanks again.

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