Professional development for math teachers allows educators to grow and thrive as they gain new skills, techniques, and knowledge. It enables math teachers to find fresh ways to connect with students and help them succeed.
Schools have a long history of struggling to deliver high-quality mathematics education to learners with disabilities or those from traditionally marginalized groups. In addition, researchers have found children's beliefs about their abilities or emotions, such as anxiety, can impact their ability to achieve.
Our math teacher professional development guide will demonstrate how programs for educators will elevate confidence and technique. The results of professional development for math teachers is reflected in the classroom, with learners' rising attitude and aptitude in the subject.
What is Math Teacher Development?
Math teacher development allows educational professionals to master math materials, deepen instructional practice, cultivate instructional leadership, and apply these skills in the classroom.
In 2009, researchers released a study on professional development's positive effects on student achievement. Since then, more research has been conducted, including how math teacher development has raised math scores in middle schoolers and found ways to use learners' errors to enhance mathematic learning.
Math teachers are increasingly facing challenges, the biggest being student mindsets, often mistakenly believing they were not born with the ability to do math. Many students also lack a foundation in basic math skills and struggle with language development. The latter impacts learners' ability to solve sentence-based math problems.
Professional development for math teachers provides course-specific classroom techniques and gives space to focus on specific subject topics, such as calculus. There are also opportunities to obtain skills not traditionally taught to math teachers, such as language development, so they can better help students succeed with sentence-based math problems.
Different Types of Math Teacher Development
Math teachers can enhance their development in several ways, selecting a method that best suits their needs and their school's requirements.
Online learning provides math teachers the opportunity to develop professionally in a flexible and accessible manner. Math teacher online development can be presented in the form of:
- Interactive modules
- Virtual courses
Online learning is an excellent choice for educators who have hectic lives and need to set their own pace.
Workshops for math teachers provide a hands-on opportunity to meet other professionals in their subject while being taught new skills, techniques, and strategies. It's an excellent way to network and brainstorm so teachers will feel less alone when facing challenges in the classroom.
Webinars are an online learning tool that allows math teachers to attend a seminar or presentation remotely. There are often opportunities to ask questions and hear other participants' thoughts, ideas, and comments. Some webinars are set up in an online workshop format, providing a more hands-on and collaborative learning experience.
Math teacher professional development can be holistically enhanced by coaching. Math coaches work closely with the teacher at the school, even observing in the classroom, to provide personal feedback, assistance, and guidance, including improving problem-solving skills.
Mentoring is similar to coaching, where math educators support each other. Often, a more experienced teacher will mentor a person newer to the profession, sharing their techniques and experience while providing personalized support. It's often a collaborative experience that benefits both parties.
Professional Development Steps for Math Teachers
Math teachers can maximize the value of their professional development by focusing on four core steps:
- Master the math materials
- Deepen instructional practice
- Cultivate instructional leadership
- Apply in the classroom
Master the Math Materials
Course-specific math professional development teachers allow mastery of the material according to the curriculum. Understanding what is essential for students to learn brings a positive focus when designing lessons so they feed into each other. The benefits are seen in learners' increased confidence and success, even as the material becomes more complex.
Math teacher professional development also supports educators by providing tools and strategies tailored to effectively teach specific units. For example, they can demonstrate how to relate the content to students' lives with everyday examples. In addition, they can provide dynamic ways to teach the material, such as using Prodigy, to make the lessons fun and impactful.
Deepen Instructional Practice
Math teacher professional development deepens instructional practice by building confidence in applying new skills and techniques utilizing feedback from support work-embedded collaborations, coaching, and mentoring.
The benefits of math educators actively learning are a boost of confidence in the classroom and enhance new approaches to teaching that provide learners with lessons that address their diverse needs.
For instance, math teachers can be coached on connecting better with disabled students by breaking material into smaller steps and using better visual and verbal supports. One example is using Modmath on an iPad to help students with dysgraphia solve their math problems.
Cultivate Instructional Leadership
Math professional development for teachers aims to cultivate instructional leadership within the school. Support from principals, district leaders, and coaches is essential. When math teachers are given proper support from these leaders, the benefits are witnessed in student outcomes.
One example of cultivating instructional leadership is to facilitate getting principals into the math classrooms and having structured meetings over the curriculum. It brings leaders up-to-date with the latest requirements and demands of math teachers and personally seeing what that looks like when carried out in the classroom.
Apply in the Classroom
Math professional development ideas produce subject-based skills, strategies, and techniques that can be applied in the classroom. For example, teachers can attend interactive workshop sessions on topics that meet their interests and needs and then put them into practice, gaining feedback from their coach or mentor.
Learners immediately benefit from the latest education developments, allowing them to improve and move forward to reach their goals.
Qualities Each Math Teacher Should Have
Every math teacher has their own strengths and challenges. But, there are some qualities each math teacher should have, and these can be gained or improved upon in the professional development process.
Expert on Math Concepts
Math teachers gain extensive training and understanding of the subject when studying to become an educator. However, curriculums evolve and strategies to introduce and teach mathematical concepts change. In addition, more tools become available to teachers every year, such as using apps to teach arrays.
Thus, excellent math teachers continue to develop their education so they remain up-to-date with experts on the latest concepts and methods of teaching to help their students reach their goals.
Patient and Positive
Excellent math teachers are patient and positive with all their students, not just the ones who initially display a high aptitude for the subject. These educators aim to engage and motivate learners to reach success.
These patient and positive educators are flexible in their approach and methodology, presenting material differently, such as using STEM videos to connect with visual learners. They follow up with students, provide guidance, and encourage collective discussions.
Overcome Math Anxiety
Excellent math teachers use professional development ideas to help their learners overcome math anxiety. They promote a positive attitude while using skills, strategies, and techniques that cultivate an understanding of the material rather than teaching by rote. Examples include:
- Utilizing game-based learning platforms
- Arranging mixed-ability collaborative groups
- Presenting material in a fun and engaging manner
- Encouraging discussion and questions
- Making math relevant, such as introducing money concepts
- Framing errors as a learning opportunity rather than getting an answer “wrong”
- Encouraging logical thinking and strategies rather than memorization
Successful math teachers understand that it is essential to be inquisitive and cultivate it in learners. Math professional development ideas involve promoting multiple approaches, reflective thought, and presenting instruction in various ways to engage all students.
Inquisitiveness can be ignited with unique approaches, such as using art to teach geometry or challenging learners to plan fantasy vacations on a set budget.
Quality math teaching comes from utilizing a creative approach in the classroom. Math professional development for teachers fosters new ideas, strategies, and approaches to keep lessons fresh and engaging, such as using the popular games Minecraft, Hungry Hungry Hippos, or Monopoly.
Measuring Student Success In Math
Student success in math is measured by any type of growth in the subject. It is not based on memorization and avoidance of errors. Instead, it is defined by students' ability to learn from mistakes and to further understand the concepts to avoid repeating the mistakes in the future.
We all make mistakes as human beings, even as adults. Viewing them as failures undermines our ability to grow. Thus, teachers need to encourage students to engage with their struggle, viewing it as a process of moving forward rather than the end result.
Measuring student success is cultivated by engaging students in problem-solving. Teachers should encourage a collaborative environment, where learners try to find different logical ways to address a problem to find solutions. The thought process promotes critical thinking, which will help them reach their goals in math and other aspects of life.
Nor should math content be confined to the textbook. Teachers should aim to find ways for learners to apply their lessons to their everyday lives, such as viewing it through finances, art, nature, and design. Again, missteps may be made, but they should be presented as yet another step toward discovery.
Take the Next Step Towards Math Teaching Success
Math professional development for teachers promotes continuous learning so educators remain current and can incorporate new ideas, strategies, and techniques into the classroom to enable their students to succeed.
We understand that teachers have incredibly busy lives, which is why we ensure that math professional development ideas are accessible in a variety of ways, including webinars, online workshops, and coaching.
Simple K12 provides content-based programs that can enhance teacher's mastery of the curriculum and content, reignite curiosity and creativity, and offer a collaborative space to exchange ideas and gain feedback.
Consider joining us at Simple K12, where we will grow, embrace our love of learning, and cultivate better ways to lead the next generation to success.