It’s no secret that aspiring
teachers with strong math backgrounds tend to be drawn toward the
secondary grades, where they can just teach math. In fact,
results of the 2018 National Survey of Science and Math
Education showed that just 3 percent of elementary teachers
surveyed held a degree in mathematics or math education, compared
with 45 percent of middle grades math teachers and 79 percent of
high school math teachers.
We’ve all likely heard someone say, “I’m bad at math,” or even “I hate math.” In the United States, math is too often considered a subject that either comes naturally or doesn’t — there are “math people,” and everyone else can expect to struggle with it. If you stop and think, though, this makes as much sense as saying we’re all naturally good (or bad) at sports, or music, or writing. It’s true that becoming skilled in any of these areas may come more easily to some people than others, but we generally understand that no one becomes expert at baseball without learning the game and spending a lot of time practicing.
Adrienne Dumas has heard it from kids for years, like so many teachers and parents: “I just don’t have a math brain.”
A math teacher at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, Dumas disagrees, and with good reason — her Algebra 1 and geometry students have a 100 percent passing rate for the past three years on the state test. Dumas and other teachers offer their tips for math success in a recent SREB High Schools That Work newsletter.
Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools, visited
Moore High School in December to look at its technology program.
And she did, but she also got a pleasant surprise when principal
Mike Coyle showed her to an Algebra 2 classroom.
Mathematics department chair Nancy Nix reported that the
superintendent was “blown away by the level of student engagement
and mathematical discourse.”
Want to see where good teaching happens? Watch what students are
doing in the classroom. Sounds obvious, maybe, but as SREB senior
vice president Gene Bottoms says, “We observe teachers
and what they’re doing all the time — but we miss a big piece of
the puzzle if we don’t see what the kids are doing as a
So SREB asked My Student Survey to see how our training in
powerful literacy and math teaching tools is paying off in the