As teachers we are totally committed to improving our skills, pedagogical approaches and doing what is best for our students. In this process we also realise what are the practices which MUST BE AVOIDED AT ANY COST in our classrooms.
1) Never introduce a session with definitions of the concept. For example, in Grade 6, the students should NEVER begin with a definition of Algebra – “the part of mathematics in which letters and other general symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equations”.
It is better to introduce with activities based on ‘recognising patterns to predict’, using straws. (Be careful with the safety limits of the manipulatives used in the class).
Inquiry based learning where the students discover for themselves and define a concept in their own words is the best approach.
Verbal drill for memorising the definition or the process does not help understanding.
2) Most of us end up giving the RIGHT solutions/process to our students instead of allowing them to discover through mistakes. I agree that this approach is time consuming but it leads to super understanding and hence fewer repetition of the concept in the class by the teacher.
3) Since the Maths concepts can get abstract and complex, 40% of the class is lost in the first 15 minutes of a session and then getting them back involves too much energy and effort. Hence showing relevance and moving from simple to complex is important.
4) Teachers are so focused on “finishing their syllabus” that they tend to go too fast, writing down solutions and definitions on the black/white board and erasing. We need to remember that ALL the students do NOT understand Mathematical procedures by reading ‘descriptions’ and their speed of comprehending a new concept will be slower than ours’.
This also leads to a classroom with a very ‘active’ teacher and a bunch of disconnected or bored students.
5) The teacher HAS to be aware of ALL the MISCONCEPTIONS the students will have in any concept and accordingly know what to do/not to do in the class. For example, students think that irregular shapes do not have any area. This happens if they learn the formula based concept of area instead of discovering that “Space covered by ANY shape is area”.
6) Most of us are in the habit of seeking affirmation from the students for a feedback on the clarity of understanding and are happy to hear “Yes Ma’am” from the same 30% of the students. In my humble opinion this is a very unproductive practice and ends up isolating quite a few students who end up with a dislike for the subject.