Encouragement for Math Teachers

22 08 2009

Not long ago, I spoke at the Idaho Teachers of Math Conference in Nampa. The theme of the conference was “Finding Success in Mathematics. Before I gave my workshops, the leaders of the conference opened with these comments…….

Success-what is it?  It is mysterious, evasive, and can feel elusive—just out of reach.  We research methods; we seek results; we stalk success.  We live for when students have those “aha” moments-to us that is success.

One dictionary defines success as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.  Termination?  Not in education.  In our world, success is germination- we plant seeds, but we may not see the flower.

If as Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”, then educators are by their very nature successful. We react to student needs-seeking solutions year after year, rejuvenated each fall with the thought of the lives we will touch.

Finding success in mathematic may seem daunting.  After all, the very word comes from the Greek for “all things worth knowing.”  That’s a lot!  Mathematics arises whenever there are difficult problems that involve quantity, structure, space, or change, logic, set theory, applied mathematics, and more recently to the rigorous study of uncertainty.

When we use Best practices of instruction, use differentiation to meet individual needs, provide interventions when students have areas of weakness, research shows us that students can show results.  They can find success! And we can celebrate those successes!




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