3 Trends in Effective Math Instruction

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The evidence is clear, school improvement has more to do with culture than with minor adjustments in methodology.

A growing body of research in the past five years is giving strong indicators for what makes an effective school – particularly, for mathematics instruction.

Here are 3 trends in effective math instruction.

High Expectations

It should come as no surprise that this is the first theme found with effective math instruction. But the phrase, high expectations, is quite vague and general. It begets several questions:

  • What does it mean to hold high expectations in math instruction?
  • What does it mean across the school?
  • Does it mean tougher grading practices?
  • How about creating tougher passing standards?

There are a few meanings founded in research. It turns out that high expectations actually means:

  • Expecting students to perform at high levels. All students.
  • Supporting each student as they succeed and struggle with math content.
  • “Pressing” students to do more and giving them extended opportunities to succeed.

Research on Math Best Practices

Highly Engaging Instruction

It turns out that some of the most classic math content can be taught in boring, non-interesting ways. I’m sure we each can remember a moment in our experience as students when this was true.

On the flipside, it can be taught in interesting and meaningful ways.

Successful schools have teachers who personally take responsibility for test scores, but seek to avoid mundane test prep.

Instead, they use interesting instructional methods that focus on core content. Very seldom are students in these schools “watching the clock” for the class to end.

Teacher Relationships

Much of the literature in the past 10 years has established the fact that relationships are important to student learning. But this is also true for teachers.

Read more on the place of coaches in a professional learning community.

In the past 5 years, schools that perform the best also build powerful teacher relationships. Here are a few of the qualities found in success schools:

  • Teachers have a shared sense of accountability.
  • Teachers do not compare and compete among themselves.
  • Teachers work together to address the needs of all students.
  • Teachers view test scores as “our students” and “our scores”.
  • Teachers have a strong sense of team – much like a basketball team wins and loses together.

Did you notice these three trends in effective math instruction have less to do with teaching and more to do with the culture of the teachers? This is showing to be true more and more in the research.

Culture has a greater impact on school effectiveness than minor changes in methodology.

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11 Strategies for Effective Math Instruction. Published by We Are Teachers. Accessed at https://www.weareteachers.com/strategies-in-teaching-mathematics/ on 12/26/2019.

Basic Math Teaching Strategies.Published by Concordia University-Portland. Accessed at https://www.weareteachers.com/strategies-in-teaching-mathematics/ on 12/26/2019.

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