Math Learning Strategies

How Teachers Can Help Math Anxiety in the Classroom

In this article, we discuss the main reasons that can cause anxiety including; mistakes with understanding math concepts, the relationship between teachers and math anxiety, along with the relationship between students and math anxiety. 

5 Ways To Reduce Math Anxiety

We believe that math anxiety is a real emotion many students face in the classroom and how the effects of math anxiety can last a life time if not treated.

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Recognizing Math Anxiety

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The effects math anxiety can have on students can lead them to believe that math is a hard subject, not worth their time. 

Keep reading to see how we look at ways teachers and students can work to overcome math anxiety in the classroom. 

Math Anxiety & Mistakes In Learning

Mistakes are a part of everyday life. So then why do mistakes in the math classroom lead to anxiety in students? 

Math has over time developed a reputation for being a subject only “smart” people enjoy. The stigma of not being able to answer questions in math may begin to convince students that they are not “smart”.

How Can Teachers Lower Math Anxiety?

Both teachers and students play an important role in the learning process. Here are some essential ways teachers and students can make learning easier for everyone, and help reduce math anxiety.

I. Create A Safe Learning Environment

Teachers and students can help to create a safe learning environment. Both can encourage others to share their thoughts, and help to correct any mistakes with kind words.

improve math communication

Teachers can engage students more when they help them recognize their previous knowledge about the subject. By doing this, teachers allow students to become more confident in their abilities. 

I.a) Provide Special Learning Tools

Learning to use a calculator in Math has now become part of the standard Math curriculums worldwide. Dyscalculator is a free online calculator that allows its users to see and hear the numbers and operations they use when solving Math problems, allowing for greater flexibility in learning. 

This calculator is a great starting point for teaching students how to visualize numbers on a calculator. The Dyscalculator is especially helpful for students who have dyscalculia, meaning an inability to calculate numbers.

This calculator is a great starting point for teaching students how to visualize numbers on a calculator. The Dyscalculator is especially helpful for students who have dyscalculia, meaning an inability to calculate numbers.

II. Introduce A 'Positive Attitudes Only' Policy

While some teachers don’t like to admit it, the honest truth is that students first taste of liking or not liking math really does depend on their teacher’s attitude and approach towards building connections between the students and the subject.

 If students feels like the teacher is not really connected with how students learn, they may withdraw from participating. 

go ahead and ask questions

Students may see it as a weakness if they can’t match the intelligence of their teacher, and so they may feel like the subject is too hard.

If the teacher is enthusiastic about sharing what they know, building shared experiences with math, and allowing students to share in the ways ideas are presented, then teachers will greatly influence the student in wanting to learn more. 

III. Acknowledge That Word Choice Is Key!

Teachers need to respond to negative attitudes students display by choosing their words carefully. Teachers need not dismiss that student with a negative attitude as an uncaring student and move on to another student. 

word choice is key to reduce anxiety

Instead, teachers should focus on that student as one that is waiting to be reassured that they actually know more than what they think they do.

IV. Recognize Mistakes Are Opportunities To Learn

Students should not be made to feel incompetent when they make a mistake with their answers. Instead, they should be guided by the teacher or other students in figuring out where they went wrong. 

math mistakes

 Teachers need to be transparent with the students in admitting that mistakes they make are a learning opportunity.

V. Teacher Enthusiasm Equals Student Confidence

Teachers may through unconscious comments give students the impression that they themselves aren’t really good at math. Teacher efficacy is very important for helping students build their own efficacy towards learning math. 

teacher - enthusiasm

When teachers project their enthusiasm for answering math questions, students will then feel confident in their abilities to answer the questions themselves.

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Final Thoughts..

These five recommendations are just some of the ways teachers and students can work together to build math confidence. 

It is important to recognize the values of emotions when it comes to learning, especially in the math classroom, where the pressure to always find the right answers may be hard for some students. 

social emotional learning and math

When teachers work together with students to use their emotions as a starting point, then the focus can shift to previous knowledge gained. Why it is important to focus on previous knowledge? 

First it brings more positive emotions, and second, it helps build further knowledge. 

Share Your Thoughts

Leave us a comment below, share your thoughts on this article, and let us know whether you agree that mistakes in math are a good learning opportunity? 

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