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Math Teaching Philosophy

Mathematics, that one subject that students either love or despise. I recall being taught
that math problems have one solution and one way to get there. Copy this example on the
board, memorize this rule, solve this problem, and cross your fingers that the answer is
right. Hope and wish that the negative really belongs before the b variable in that equation, and
was it skip, flip, multiply, or flip, skip, multiply? Who decided to put so much gymnastics in
math anyways?! Nevertheless, I have accepted the daunting challenge of saving Middle
Schoolers from the terror of pre-algebra and the looming array of mathematics courses in their
future by becoming a Middle Grades Math teacher.
While being educated in the techniques and strategies of this field, I have developed a
few very passionate philosophies on the teaching of mathematics. Throughout this paper I will
list many different principles that I hold in educating students about math, but they will all relate
to a central conviction of mine Anybody can learn mathematics. In order to really understand
this philosophy, we need to first examine my understanding and definition of learn. In education,
we, so often, think of learning as memorizing the steps to solving a problem and being able to
recite this information at the drop of a pin. In fact, if you were to look up the word learn at
dictionary.com, the third definition is to memorize. I strongly disagree with this definition.
Learning something is understanding that information at a level so deep and secure that you are
able to apply it in different situations. In learning, there are many different factors being applied
and steps to be taken in order to meet the ultimate goalmastery.
In order to aid my students in learning about mathematics, I vow to take the responsibility
to present the information in multiple ways in order to meet the needs of each of my students. By
meeting the students needs in their different learning styles and relating this information to their

past experiences and interests, my classes will be taking one of the first big steps in becoming
mathematicians. Adapting to their needs means that I, as a math educator, will need to be
constantly re-evaluating the lessons that I teach and the activities that I use in order to provide
the students with the support that they need to truly understand the material.
Another vital belief that I have on teaching mathematics is developing a strong and stable
base of information for them to build upon. This means I will provide my students with the
concrete representations and understanding that is needed in order to move forward to semiabstract and abstract comprehension of the material. We must provide the students with a secure
grasp on the basics of mathematics in order for them to continue their pursuit of mastery. When
we provide the students with this information, anxiety and questioning will disappear during
testing and performance assessment. With the development of understanding at the most basic
level (concrete), and thorough advancement throughout the levels that follow (semi-abstract and
abstract), both formative and summative assessments will not be as much of a memorizing or
guessing game for the students. Assessments will truly become evaluations of the students
understanding.
When this stable base of information is formed, the students are then able to strive toward
greater and greater heights. As I stated before, I believe that any student can learn math. I am
also convinced that any student can achieve greatness. As teachers, we need to give the students
a foundation of knowledge in order for them to believe in themselves, their own abilities, and
futures. This includes challenging them, nurturing them, and taking responsibility for our role in
their development and future. We must challenge our students intellectually and morally in order
to prepare them for the classes and careers that lie ahead of them.

I believe that students learning plays a crucial role in their self-esteem. Since their
dignity can rest in their academic achievement, it is essential that educators value learning rather
than grades. When a student sees that their teacher values their work and their achievement in
true learning, they will be more likely to value life-long learning and to yearn for education. Far
too many students interests in math are lost due to a bad teacher or a bad grade that they
received during their time in school. Also, research shows that while high grades can produce
greater effort, a majority of the time low grades will have the opposite effect. When a teacher
puts an emphasis on learning instead of achievement, their students attitude toward education
will transform and learning will become more of a positive experience overall.
Finally, I believe that when a student has their needs met in the information presented, the
development of a strong and stable knowledge base, being challenged to reach greater heights,
and feeling valued in their learning, then a teacher is just beginning to execute their role as an
educator. When a student steps in to our classroom, our obligation to that student reaches much
further than just giving them information to get them to the next grade. A teacher signs a contract
to not only be an educator, but a mentor, protector, mediator, manager, prompter, counselor,
cheerleader, programmer, coordinator, designer, critic, sharer, and, most importantly, learner. I
believe that teachers must NEVER stop learning. They must always be looking back and
reviewing their work and always striving toward bettering themselves and their performance.
Not for their own achievement, not for a pay raise, or a pat on the back. But for their students.
For the lives of each and every single young mind that comes through your door, and the lives of
each person they encounter. The role of a teacher wields much more power and responsibility
than most people realize (or that their paycheck might show), and I am more than to ready to
accept a role in this influential profession.