Challenging Experience with Students
Mathematics is a contemporary subject which is taught all the way from an elementary school to the PHD level. Many mathematics teachers usually face different challenges with their students because of different reasons. It is funny how mathematics is considered one of the simplest and most enjoyable subject in the world while others consider it as one of the most difficult subjects, and they have sort of fear of it (Lester 67). It is these conflicting opinions that have brought a lot of challenges to mathematics teachers.
As a high school mathematics teacher, I have had different challenges teaching math to high school students. High school students are in their adolescent stage and therefore, they are very sensitive and should be handled appropriately. One of the most challenging experiences that I have had during my teaching career is teaching math to a class of students who all had a negative attitude towards mathematics. They feared math and they declared that they were not good at it. This was very challenging because I had to make sure that at the end of the semester, all of them would excel in mathematics and they would change their attitude. Getting them to change their attitude was the biggest challenge. Change of attitude would be the beginning of liking something and excelling in it. I therefore had to come up with ways of ensuring that I overcome the challenge (Remillard 98).
One of my strategies was selective teaching. This is the
teaching method where the teacher selects what to teach the students, when to teach them and how to teach them (Brodie 105). The teacher does not follow protocol or normal teaching procedures when carrying out selective teaching. I had to select the easier topics to teach the students in the beginning. This was to ensure that I get their attention and hold their interest by giving them easy things to do so that they would think that math is after all doable and easy, and that they could do it. Another strategy is used to overcome this challenge was to divide the students into several small groups of students with different backgrounds. This way they would learn to work together and even challenge each other to see who is the fastest learner of a certain concept. The outcome was positive with many students starting to attend the class more, others showing more interest and others showing good results and good progress.
The biggest outcome was most of the students say out loud that they love mathematics, while others even declare that math is now their favorite subject. I impacted the outcome in different ways. First I told them about my personal experience, how I used to hate math and how I came to love it and even ended up as a math teacher. Most students could relate to my story and they wanted to become like me, and this desire gave them the determination and strength to work hard. Second, I offered rewards all the time to students who had shown progress every week or students who solved a difficult math problem easily. This prompted them to work hard so that they could get the rewards.
I determined that the outcome was successful by giving them assessment tests and seeing how they performed, and also by constantly asking them if they love mathematics and seeing their feedback which is now positive as compared with the beginning of the semester when it was all negative. If I could do this again, I would not change anything I did because all my strategies were successful. I would only improve on the strategies but not change them unless the class has different students such as those with special needs, or those whose first language is not English.
Brodie, Karin. Teaching Mathematical Reasoning in Secondary School Classrooms. California: Springer. 2009. Print
Lester, Frank. Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning. Boston: IAP. 2009. Print
Remillard, Janine. Mathematics Teachers at Work: Connecting Curriculum Materials and Classroom Instruction. New York: Taylor & Francis. 2008. Print