I remember when, as a veteran teacher, I was given a new mentor, and she gave me some great advice: sometimes you just need to bring your class together and have a talk about starting fresh. That’s single best piece of advice I would give you in order to find the restart you are looking for. Bring your students along with you. Below are seven ideas to restart the math classroom!
Routines are the bedrock of the classroom. Whether a new year has started or you just feel like your class is getting a bit stale, it’s always a good time to think about your routines.
Spruce up your math warmup routines is with whiteboards. My printable Kit helps math educators create whiteboard warmup activities that will get students engaged from the start of the lesson, and also help teachers assess students’ prior knowledge and readiness for what is going to be taught.
While on the one hand we want our classes to be orderly, particularly if we are teaching long-block classes, on the other we need to get students up and moving around the room. In essence, these are additional routines we need to teach our students. An excellent way to do this is the Handshake and a Question Activity. This is a great opportunity for students to interact with math content, vocabulary, or drill problems—there are many ways you can use it! The details are in this free download.
You’ve probably figured out who your struggling students are by now. One thing you can do is to remind them (and yourself) that there’s hope for them! If there’s a group of students that is discouraged and giving up, it will also affect the atmosphere in your whole class. One of my most popular articles is on this topic. Additionally, Sadlier School has an Ideas for Supporting Struggling Students Kit that can be downloaded (free of charge!). Getting those students restarted will help every student.
Sometimes we need to build our repertoire of math teaching strategies in order to provide more variety in what we do in our classrooms.
#5 Add new tools
Tools use is one of the main underlying concepts of Vygotsky’s theories of teaching and learning. Sometimes we only think of tools as a compass and protractor, or a calculator, or “virtual” tools online. You’ll find this article and the download really helpful in identifying the kinds of tools you can use with students for each grade level and each strand of math. Using tools is a great approach to engaging students in their learning.
If you aren’t using math centers in your classroom right now, take the time to plan at least one math center activity. Given a little time and investment, it will totally revolutionize the way you view teaching and learning—it’s not just a quick fix. If you want to venture into this mode of teaching, have a look at this blog post. It will help you plan your first math center day. Find suggestions about how to set up a math center, as well as free resources to help you get started.
#7 Get feedback from students
Ask your students what would make math class more fun for them—they always have great ideas! Collecting their responses on this neatly-formatted sheet is a way to discover what students do and do not enjoy in math class. Making the class more responsive to their likes and dislikes lets students know that teachers are interested in them, which helps to engage them in the learning process. You can print this download today and get some quick ideas from your students.
I hope these ideas and free downloads will help you "restart" your class and add some extra spark to your teaching. Engage your student in the process. Let them know why and how you want to change things up. They are looking to you for that kind of leadership and will follow where you lead.