The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

What are the building blocks to a classroom community and culture of learners?

One key foundational block in the structure of a culture of learners is to make the classroom a place where students trust the teacher and believe it’s a safe place to take risks. In doing this, the classroom becomes learner centered (core competency L1). By creating a safe place, a teacher can foster and encourage a student’s self esteem, their confidence in the subject matter, and their willingness to grow as a learner.

As a teacher, I will establish my classroom to be a safe place where respect and trust is mutual between my students and I. One of the ways I will do this is by getting to know my students individually. I will conduct a class survey at the beginning of the year to determine some of their interests. I will maintain regular individual conversations with them through quarterly letter writing. In addition, I will also share about my interests and likes/dislikes in math so as to relate to them at a more personal level. Finally, all questions will be valued in my class. There will be no such thing as a “bad question” so long as it is classroom appropriate.

The challenges of creating this safe culture for learning will be many. With so many students, it will take effort to get to know them all and ensure they know they are valued members of our classroom community. However, as long as a constant effort is being made to respect my students, I feel they will be able to help in creating a place where learning can take place.

Questions to consider: Is a book club actually a helpful strategy to use in a math class?  What kind of jobs could I create that are more than just “classroom chores” in my math class?

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