Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Your Relationship with Students: Caring & Empathy in Teaching Math

Helping students learn math can be complex, difficult and requires a long-term commitment. It also requires that a "relationship" of trust be built with your students. Today I had about 20 different students in my room before and after school (as early as 7:30 am and as late as 5:00 pm). Interestingly, none of them were actually my current students. Many were students from past classes I had taught or students that I didn't even know. They had one thing in common...they all had a test in IB Math Studies coming up sometime in the next week.

So, the obvious question was, "Why were they coming to me for help?" There are many possible reasons but here are a few of the most likely (from my perspective):
  • They trust me and are comfortable coming to me for help
  • Their friends (who know me) told them I would help them and encouraged them to visit me
  • They know I have confidence in them and want to see them succeed
  • They want to understand the math and pass their class
  • I am patient and explain mathematics in a way and at a pace that matches their learning style
  • I give them an opportunity to practice and confirm/deepen their understanding
  • I make the time working on mathematics enjoyable and fun - with a sense of humor
  • And their course teacher is not readily available to provide help
I am sure there are other reasons (for example, desperation) that these student come to me, but I think this list is a pretty good start.

MORAL  OF THE STORY: Make yourself overtly available to work with ANY students on math (don't miss the opportunity). Show the students respect and that you care. Empathize with their situation and adjust to meet their needs. Make the visit to work with you productive and enjoyable. If you can do these things, over the long term, you will build a reputation with students for being a teacher who they can trust and a teacher who truly has their best interests at heart. This is something that takes (a lot of) time, and once established, every effort should be made to keep the relationship and reputation firmly in place. Best of all, it makes teaching math that much more rewarding!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome!