Despite what you may think math teachers are not perfect in math. Actually, all teachers have to work for years to develop their knowledge and skills. Math teachers in particular not only have to learn math they have to be able to teach it in a logical step by step manner so students can understand how to find solutions to problems. One of the best things a math teacher does to help a student learn math is to demonstrate examples of how problems are solved- providing the student with a model of how they should do their work. As such, students want to strive to do math problems like a math teacher.
Here are four areas that I as a math teacher focus on to work a math problem.
- Start The Problem on Alert. When I start a math problem I first place my mind on “alert”. Just as in my military days, I get myself ready to look out for anything that can cause failure. Moreover, if I’m not in a good state of focus then I wait until my mind settles then start the problem. So before you start your math problems you need to be fully mentally ready.
- Write One Step Then Double Check. Next, as I start working a problem I focus on one step at a time. I don’t try to think about several steps at once- I only focus on a step. More importantly, I look for errors that I may have made in a step; from experience I know it’s so easy to make careless errors so I don’t assume anything and double check everything. Hence, if me as a math teacher with years of experience have to work a problem in this manner you need to do so as well.
- Don’t Break The Speed Limit. When I work a problem I let my accuracy determine my pace; I only go as fast as I can without compromising focus. Focus on effectiveness first and efficiency second.
- Take Pride in Your Work. Once I have properly completed a math problem in a logic manner that makes sense to me and others I feel great. The reason I feel proud is that I validate that I’m a disciplined person with the ability to focus. Discipline and focus are keys to being successful in life so when you do math problems correctly you are practicing excellent success habits- you should be proud of that!
Listen, you need to strive to solve problems like a math teacher. Trust me as you or your child goes into more advance math these things I listed become more critical for success. Use the 4 guidelines above to evaluate how you or your child is doing in math- strive for excellence not just correct answers.