Kimberly Melgar, department chair for mathematics at Relay Graduate School of Education, argues that math educators and leaders need to focus on creating healthy math identities for students. She notes that for too long students have been fed the narrative that they are just not good at math.
Teacher preparation programs should teach teachers not just the mechanics and concepts of math, but how to create confidence, curiosity, and joy in math spaces. Melgar suggests that teachers examine their own math identities and the ways that they project their beliefs through their instructional decisions. To promote positive math identities, teachers should make math relevant to students’ lives, explore teaching strategies that prioritize discussion and sense-making, and embed discussions of bias into content training.
Kids have an uncanny way of taking the temperature of their teacher’s mental state. Teachers would benefit from first working on their own math mindsets. When it comes to math, it's important to remember that anyone who works on math problems can consider themselves a mathematician. Even though math problems often have only one correct answer, mistakes need to be celebrated as an important part of the learning process.
How has your "math history" shaped your current math mindset? Take time to consider how math is relevant to your life and your students. Celebrate the struggles of math and use them to deepen understanding.