Did you spend your school years dreading Maths? Just like every other child, I had dreams too. I wanted to become a surgical dentist because I wanted to be the first person to remove the human jaw and put it back (I am sure I would not have been the first person to perform this kind of surgery). But just like most adults who nursed the ambition of becoming doctors ditched their white coats before they could even begin, I also changed their career direction when growing up, and the reason was a subject I was not so good at – Maths! To pursue a Science related programme, your Maths grades needed to be top-notch. I found other subjects easy peasy lemon squeezy but Maths was just a hard nut to crack. I was always dreading the nail-biting and nerve-racking “Mental” Sessions in the morning and was often at sea during Maths tests.
For many students, doing Maths can cause negative emotions like fear of failure and this fear develops because they find the complex formulas arduous and boring. It is often associated with apprehension, stress, panic and confusion. Consequently, Maths anxiety can lead to a negative impact on the students’ ability to perform. Nevertheless, such students can overcome it should they have the willingness and proper guidance.
Here are some ways Teachers can help their students understand Maths and love it:
- Change of Mindset: as a teacher, you need to teach your students to have a growth mindset. Some students are riddled with the fixed mindset that Maths is thorny and they are just hopelessly bad at it. Help them to realise that it is possible for them to get better at it should they keep trying. Do not forget to celebrate their successes – when they are able to solve problems, they found difficult to do few weeks ago.
- Make it fun: a way to help students love Maths is to play fun games with it. You can also make songs and recitals using some concepts.
- Establish a Learning Environment: students do better when they are in an environment where student-teacher engagement is effective. Engagement becomes natural when teachers establish an environment where students are willing to try and genuinely enjoy lessons.
- Make it Relatable: students find Maths difficult because they perceive some of the concepts complex and ambiguous so explaining the concepts in a simple but engaging way with an enthusiastic approach can help students take interest in the subject.
- Use Technology: in a world where technology drives most of our daily activities, Maths teachers can use it to engage their students. There are so many great websites and online game apps for practising Maths skills; you can download for your students to practise during Maths sessions.
Maths anxiety can be tackled at the early stage preventing it from developing further into adulthood. Teachers can increase Maths proficiency in their students by making it more fun and engaging, incorporating more games, innovative assessments, and a good attitude, you can help your students to love Maths and be better skilled at it.