Every teacher has a first year of teaching, one which often seems overwhelming. Even the next few years can be taxing as one tries to deal with all the planning, the lessons, the assessment, the special needs, the routines, the supplies, the parents, the responsibilities, etc. Whoever says teaching is a piece of cake needs to step into the classroom for a while.

Besides spending years as a classroom teacher, I have been a math coach, a teacher of university math education courses, and a full time district math coach. My math journey has been exciting, but looking back I wish I had known in those early years of teaching some of what I know now.

Here are some thoughts along that line:

- My attitude toward mathematics matters. If I don’t like it, the students won’t either. If I love it, they will, too.

- Every child can learn math

- Concepts need to be developed beginning with concrete materials (manipulatives).

- It is important to use many kinds of visual/pictorial representations regularly.

- My students need my help to learn how to “talk math” and need time in my lessons to do it.

- There really are many ways to solve a problem, not just one “right way” (that was demonstrated by me, the teacher).

- It is better to do one problem five ways than five problems one way (Polya).

- Students need to develop strategies for solving problems, strategies that they understand and can explain.

- Adults use mathematical estimation daily. Kids need to practice it often.

- Doing algorithms requires no mathematical understanding, just a knowledge of how to follow rules.

What do you think? Let me know.

Mathematically yours,

Carollee

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