Let’s face it, teaching elementary math can be hard. So much about how we teach math today may look and feel different from how we learned it. Today, we recognize placing the student at the center of their learning increases engagement, motivation, and academic achievement soars. Teaching math in a student-centered way changes the role of the teacher from one who traditionally “delivers knowledge” to one who fosters thinking. Most importantly, we must ensure our practice gives each and every student the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve at high levels, while providing opportunities to develop their agency and authority in the classroom which results in a positive math identity.
Whether you are a brand new teacher or a veteran, if you find teaching math to be quite the challenge, this is the guide you want by your side. Designed for just-in-time learning and support, this practical resource gives you brief, actionable answers to your most pressing questions about teaching elementary math. Written by four experienced math educators representing diverse experiences, these authors offer the practical advice they wish they received years ago, from lessons they've learned over decades of practice, research, coaching, and through collaborating with teams, teachers and colleagues—especially new teachers—every day.
Questions and answers are organized into five areas of effort that will help you most thrive in your elementary math classroom:
1. How do I build a positive math community?
2. How do I structure, organize, and manage my math class?
3. How do I engage my students in math?
4. How do I help my students talk about math?
5. How do I know what my students know and move them forward?
Woven throughout, you'll find helpful sidebar notes on fostering identity and agency; access and equity; teaching in different settings; and invaluable resources for deeper learning. The final question—Where do I go from here?— offers guidance for growing your practice over time. Strive to become the best math educator you can be; your students are counting on it! What will be your first step on the journey?
Student experiences and interactions at school, in the community, and at home shape their identities. Use this resource to nurture your students’ math identities so that they can grow and learn as mathematicians.
Problem solving is not about simply applying a procedure to a problem to find an answer; it is a process that requires students to think, question, and make sense of the mathematics. Here is a list of helpful tips for working with problem solving across the year.