- The Role of History in Understanding Black Experiences in Mathematics Education - October 11, 2021
- Why Race? Why Mathematics? Listening and Learning with Black Mathematics Teachers - August 31, 2021
- It Starts at Home: What Parents Can Do to Support Their High School Students in Advanced Mathematics (Part III: It's Cultivated at Home) - August 20, 2012
- It Starts at Home:What Parents Can Do to Support Their High School Students in Advanced Mathematics (Part 2: In and Out-of-School Strategies) - August 13, 2012
- It Starts at Home: How Parents Can Support Their High School Students in Advanced Mathematics (Part 1: Rethinking Smartness) - July 20, 2012
In Part 1 of this article series, I suggested helping students to develop a new definition of "smartness" in mathematics. In Part 2, I presented some strategies that parents can implement both at home and with the support of their high schooler's mathematics teacher. Again, these strategies require little to no advanced mathematical background, put they produce fantastic results. Now find out what parents can do to stay abreast of their child's mathematical experiences in high school.
Keep your finger on the pulse of your child’s math classroom. Be aware of the school-based resources available for mathematics support.
For my last point, I would like to provide an illustration from my professional experiences: Semester exams were over. The grades
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had been submitted. The students were beginning their summer vacation. I received a rather troubling email from a parent inquiring about the low grade that her student received on my Algebra II final exam. After listening to her frustrations, I mentioned to her that he was not present at any of the afterschool review sessions. She replied, “Review sessions? I didn’t know anything about any review sessions.” I shared with her that I posted important information about my class to the class website, including the dates and times for the semester exam review sessions. Surpri
As a new educator the overwhelming sense of drowning in responsibility is next to impossible to ignore. Sure, there is an almost tangible sense of excitement about your efforts paying off and finally being dropped into your own classroom, but that soon fades as reality sets in and you come to terms with the fact that you alone are responsible for providing these children with the best education available.
This desire to provide the next generation with the level of education they both need and deserve is perhaps the single largest driving force behind young people entering the education field. We have an obligation to those who follow us to make sure that they are prepared for when the time comes for them to take charge and run the world. As such, we think that we, as a team of teachers, have all the answers and will be able to make even the most stubborn, disinterested students see the light and succeed in school. It’s a common thought process among new teachers to think that they have the hidden ability to save them all.
sed and irritated, she quickly ended the conversation and went in search of her son.
This scenario is more common than I’d like to admit. In my professional experience, I find that by the time many students get to high school, their parents tend to relax a bit on managing their school affairs. I think this is a good thing to do, in a sense, because it teaches responsibility. However, I would also suggest that parents pull back in a way in which students feel autonomous, yet know that their parents are abreast of what is going on at their school and in their coursework. Many schools are now equipped with the technology so that parents can quickly log in and look at their student’s progress. Take advantage of systems such as these.
If parents happen to be in a school without this technology, a quick email or call about what is happening in class not only keeps a parent in the know, but also establishes a great rapport with the teacher. Some questions to pose to the teacher include:
- Is afterschool tutoring available? Do you personally provide it?
- How often do you update your grades?
- How often do you assign homework?
- How often do students take math tests and/or quizzes?
- What is your policy for make-up work? Extra credit?
- Are there any afterschool or summer mathematics enrichment programs available?
- Are there supplemental materials that you suggest that will support my student’s understanding of the mathematics taught in this class?
- How can I support you, as the teacher, in my child’s math class?
While this suggestion as well as the list of questions to pose to mathematics teachers sound useful for any subject area, doing this for mathematics classes is particularly important for a few reasons. First, mathematics and science related subjects carry certain stigmas about being hard and inaccessible. Struggling students tend not to vocalize their frustrations because they have accepted that it is okay to not do well in math (We debunked this earlier, right?).
Thus, it is important for parents to send the message that mathematics success is critical by keeping abreast of what is happening in their classes. Second, many schools pour additional resources into their mathematics programs because this subject area is considered a “high needs” area. Students may be eligible for or be missing out on additional support and enrichment programs simply because parents are not aware. Parents keeping their finger on the pulse of their students’ mathematics classes could mean additional support and opportunities.
So while parents may not have factored polynomial expressions since their high school years, this does not mean they cannot help to ensure success for their students in higher-level mathematics classes. Just as a good math teacher works to demystify the seemingly complicated and abstract nature of advanced mathematics, parents can support this by showing the usefulness and utility of mathematics at home. So while mathematics was not necessarily in my genes as my mother proclaimed, just knowing that she and my father saw me as capable of doing and succeeding at advanced mathematics went a long way in my achievement. It gave me a sense of confidence about the content that I took with me to my mathematics classes in high school and college. It helped me to see myself as a capable and competent mathematics student. It helped me to persevere when the problems in class were really tough.
A handful of math geniuses are born. The rest of them are cultivated.
I submit that cultivation begins at home.
What do you do to support your students in mathematics at home?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]