Current Collection of Tips
- Teacher to Teacher: Seek out other teachers in your school and community to share with and learn from. Use this network to communicate what is working well in your classroom and get ideas on how to improve. Make an appointment to observe others’ classes and ask for others to come to see yours. Reflect afterward.
- Teacher to Network: Join a social network. Use it for collaborative exchanges to improve classroom instruction and provide professional peer-to-peer support. You’ll learn of professional development opportunities, save time by exchanging lessons, and get insight into the use and popularity of social networks. Become a fan of NCTM’s Facebook page www.nctm.org/facebook.
- Teacher to Students: Answer questions by asking questions. Become a better listener. Don’t be afraid of silence. Give students time to think before expecting a response. Realize how much you learned by teaching the material, and give students the opportunities to do the explaining whenever possible.
- Students to Teacher: Make them a partner in learning; ask for feedback often. You’ll earn respect from your students as they realize you are considering their opinions. Productivity will increase, and classroom management problems will decrease.
- Teacher to Parents: Get in touch with the parents of your students. Make an appointment to connect with each student’s family early in the term. Call and tell them something good about their child. If you provide regular newsletter updates, make sure the parents know to expect them. Ask the parents if they prefer to receive news about their children by email, mail, or phone.
- Parents to Teacher: Make sure that you are accessible. Do your best not to show partiality to your own preferred mode of communication. Respond to emails and phone calls the same day you receive them. Make time to meet with parents face to face. Even if they can’t make it, they will appreciate your invitation and availability.
- Teacher to Administration: Defuse the anxiety of being observed by taking the initiative and inviting the observers in! When your students are presenting a project or you feel confident that you have a unique lesson planned, show it off. Set up a spot for your observer, make sure they have all handouts, and then be sure to follow up. Ask what went well and what could be improved.
- Students to Parents: Send home math activities that encourage parent involvement. Including parents in assignments improves communication of your expectations, gives them a firsthand idea of what their children are learning, and increases their appreciation of their child’s education. (Remember that some parents are less willing or less available than others; involvement by guardians or mentors should also be acceptable.)
- Students to Students: Each student has a unique learning preference. No matter how good you are at explaining something, you won’t be able to reach all of your students on your own. Allow them the opportunity to explain the material to each other in their own words. When they are directly involved in the material, they have a better opportunity to ‘get it.’ Give group problem-solving opportunities. Allow them to organize group work on posters, whiteboards, etc., and then present to the class. Ask for feedback from other students before you give your own feedback.
- Students to Mathematics Content: Seek out interactive lessons so that your students can construct conceptual knowledge through their own experiences. Allow them to become responsible for their own learning by ‘doing’ instead of expecting them to learn passively from your presentation of the concepts. Search for interactive applets for grades PreK-12 at http://illuminations.nctm.org/ActivitySearch.aspx.
- Teacher/School to Community: Create lessons from real-world opportunities. Invite guest speakers from the community to speak on topics that are relevant to your students, then create an accompanying math lesson. Or organize a community event such as a holiday dinner for a homeless shelter. Work through estimating how much of each menu item you will need to feed the expected number of individuals, developing a budget plan, and tracking graphically how close they are to their goal.
For additional resources on motivation, including applets, a family guide, research articles and classroom activities, ideas, and strategies, visit the Interaction Resource Page.