When a student struggles in math, some people, including parents, give excuses about the child not having a “math brain” or the content being “too abstract.” Rather than focusing on excuses, find ways to support the student. A few suggestions are:
1. Prepare students with stepwise progressions from one grade to the next. Don’t let math come at students in monumental leaps but rather scaffold the approach in one year so that it builds cleanly onto the next. Some examples of such scaffolding include but are not limited to: a) maintain accurate math language across grades and courses. b) use visuals and graphic organizers to show why.
2. Maintain high expectations by stating the goals to students but setting realistic goals objectives with each student. Likewise, don’t accept that a student says she can’t do it because it is too hard. Spend the time to show her that she can do it and persist in your efforts to help. This communicates that she can and that learned helplessness is not an option.
3. Set up a multiple tiered structural support (MTSS) system to help fill the gaps within learning. With the infusion of CCSS there will be an increased number of wrinkles within student understanding. Developing tier 1, 2 and 3 interventions will help smooth those wrinkles.
Math is a seemingly difficult subject but success does not depend on some magical or mystical ability. Help students see that effort will help them succeed.