Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I keep circling in my head about this. To help your weak-ability students, the singular gift you can give them is the gift of confidence in math. Yes, it's important to make the lessons relevant. Yes, it's important to have open-ended questions. But, math is inherently fun when you feel confident when approaching a new problem and can see it as a challenge rather than an obstacle, and this is a gift that they can retain even after they leave your class.

Confidence. That's what it all boils down to, for me anyway, when working with weak-ability students. I love this time of the year when I can see the transformations that have occurred from August until now!


  1. I wish I had your confidence! I ache for the ones who still look lost and feel like I have failed them...

  2. I celebrate the small victories. I am still shooting for reaching 100% of them but I'll celebrate for now for definitely reaching more of them than last year!!

  3. oh Mimi.....How I love your blog!

    Yes, we like "what can do" , which leads to confidence , which leads to buy in.

  4. I've taught the range of consultant teacher in 15:1 self-contained through AP Calculus, and at every level helping students with their confidence is an issue. Here are a few humorous strategies that I've found useful:

    1) I don't let students answer my question with a question mark. Example:
    Teacher: "...so, what do we do?"
    Student: "Find the slope?" (hear the question mark via student's inflection)
    T: "If you're going to be wrong, be wrong with confidence! Find the slope, damn it!" (pound fist on board or desk in faux outrage)
    S: [smiles] "Find the slope!"

    2) S: "I don't know how to do [whatever]"
    T: "What's your best guess?"
    S: "[usually the correct answer]"
    T: "Don't tell me you don't know, and then tell me the correct answer! It gets me all confused!"

    Then end with a high-five or fist-bump :)