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Four Effective Strategies for Mathematics Education: Insights from Mr. Pat Giommi

GNS senior school students doing a math problem at a white board

As a seasoned mathematics teacher, I’ve witnessed countless students grow and succeed in their mathematical journeys. Through my experience, I’ve identified several strategies that can enhance mathematics education and support. Here, I’d like to share my insights on prioritizing academic tasks, using available tools and nurturing a supportive environment for students and parents.

The Three-Legged Stool of Mathematics Success

One of the metaphors I often use to explain the foundation of mathematics success is the three-legged stool. This stool represents classroom engagement, communicating with your teacher and independent practice. Each leg is crucial, and neglecting any one of them can destabilize a student’s overall performance. Participating actively in class, completing homework and committing to independent practice are vital for mastering mathematical concepts. All it takes is 20 minutes a day when students are busy with other extracurriculars. While extracurriculars are an important piece of one’s educational journey they must be complemented with a solid academic portfolio when applying to universities.

Utilizing Mathematics Help Resources

We are fortunate to have a wealth of resources at GNS designed to support our students. One of the most valuable is the Mathematics Help Centre, a space where students can seek assistance directly from their teachers. This space provides an opportunity for one-on-one support where students can address their specific questions and challenges. As your teachers, we are here and happy to assist you, so lean on us for support when you most need it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Embracing Teacher-Vetted Resources

I always advise my students to utilize teacher-recommended online resources before turning to broadly available internet sources. Platforms like Google Classroom often contain curated materials that I have selected specifically for my students. By prioritizing these resources, students can access reliable and relevant content without the confusion that might arise from unverified sources. Your digital or hard-copy texts are also indispensable, as the digital texts have built-in support features such as animations, self-guided tutorials and graphing tools.

The Role of Parents in Mathematics Education

Communication between parents and children is another crucial element in a student’s success. I encourage parents to regularly discuss coursework, assignments and academic progress with their children. Staying informed and involved in their education can make a significant difference. Parents should also monitor their children’s study habits and encourage a balanced approach to academic and social-emotional needs. It is also crucial that parents play a helping hand in reducing distractions caused by phones. Dedicated focus makes a world of difference in your child’s grade outcomes. 

Another tip for parents is to host distraction-free study groups. Get together in a small group, cook some hotdogs or cookies for the kids and make an event out of studying. Without phones, and with the help of other students going through the same coursework, the sense of rapport and support can deepen a student’s understanding of the subject matter, and this could even be considered a bit of fun if turned into a positive social event.

Practice, Practice and More Practice 

Practice is fundamental in mathematics education. Regular practice helps students build skills and deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts. My goal is to create an environment where students can achieve “aha” moments, inspiring a genuine interest and confidence in mathematics.

By prioritizing academic tasks, utilizing available resources and maintaining open communication between parents and children, we can help students achieve success in mathematics and develop a strong foundation for future academic pursuits. 

Action Items for Students and Parents

To support these strategies, I recommend several actionable steps for both students and parents:

1. Teacher-Recommended Resources: Before seeking help broadly online, students should first explore the resources recommended by their teachers.

2. Access Mathematics Help Centres and Teacher Sessions: Students should take advantage of the mathematics help centre and schedule individual sessions with their teachers for additional support.

3. Parental Involvement: Parents should engage with their children about their mathematics coursework, check in on assignments and grades (in ManageBac) and observe their study habits. Organizing study schedules and forming study groups with other parents can also be beneficial.

4. Practice Makes Perfect: Mathematics is a skill, and skills require practice. Even if you dedicate 20 minutes every evening to solving a few mathematics problems, you will be well on your way to understanding.