Algebra is a math subject that needs extensive abstract thinking and is a challenging skill for many students. Understanding Algebra is key for success in subsequent math courses like Statistics, Calculus, and Geometry. Algebra knowledge is also a must for succeeding in scientific and technical careers.
To master Algebra, one has to be proficient with representations, equations, and graphs. Since knowledge of Algebra is linked to building future leaders who can compete in an increasingly complex world, it should be taught properly. Any negligence in teaching Algebra can have a negative impact on a student’s career. In this article, we have consolidated some tips that will guide you on how to become a better pre-Algebra teacher.
- Problem-solving approach
Solving Algebra problems requires students to think more abstractly. Students have to process a lot of complex examples that can act as a hindrance to understanding concepts. Using solved problems to engage students to analyze the reasoning and strategies helps them with the learning process. Discussing solution steps in detail helps students develop a deeper understanding of logic that goes into solving Algebra problems. You can even use an incorrectly solved problem to highlight common mistakes. This teaching method encourages critical thinking needed to crack Algebra problems. Most of the pre algebra online courses are utilizing this method to deliver the best output.
- Structure of algebraic representations
Explaining structure helps students make connections between problem and solution strategies. It becomes easy for them to understand the characteristics of algebraic expressions. Whether the problems are presented in numeric, graphic, or symbolic form, students will be able to solve them if they understand the structure clearly. To explain the structure, you can present equations in different forms and ask students to identify differences and similarities. Conduct an engaging session in the class by allowing students to work in pairs and discuss the structure.
- Follow a process
While teaching in the class, you must follow a set process. Never teach at a faster pace or give students a lot of problems to solve as homework. Solving hundreds of problems in one session will do nothing in terms of understanding the concepts. Let the students take their time in reciprocating to your teaching. Praise their efforts in problem-solving rather than scolding them for incomplete homework. Teach them to never give up when they face a difficult problem. Following a process and giving students enough freedom will encourage critical and logical thinking.
- Don’t get bogged down by failure
Never scold a student if he or she gets the wrong answer. Use this opportunity to drive deeper discussions about problem-solving approaches. You must set a goal for students to get to an answer. It’s good if they can get it right in the first attempt. Else, discuss different solution approaches to push a growth mindset in students. Mistakes are valuable as it hints towards learning. The day we stop making mistakes, the learning ends.
- Encourage different problem-solving approaches
Encourage students to choose alternative algebraic strategies while solving problems. Ask your students to make a strategy for solving any algebraic problem. Knowledge of multiple problem-solving strategies will be useful in solving a variety of problems. Students won’t have to memorize one approach which can limit their knowledge and reduce abstract thinking. Comparing different strategies will further improve their understanding of tough concepts.
- Be prepared
Being a teacher, you will have to explain tough concepts to students. There can be a lot of questions that you might have to face. Until you are fully prepared to answer them, your students will lose interest in Algebra. Start preparing at least two weeks before you teach a topic in the class. Plan the lessons upfront so that you can explain the concepts to the students without any hassle. Use open-source resources offered by organizations like Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) or National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to create the curriculum. Your preparedness will determine the knowledge you can share with your students.
These are some of our recommendations that can be implemented with the existing curriculum. Incorporate some of these tips when you’re planning to teach students mathematics. Your teaching will become more effective and the students will be able to make connections between concepts and solving procedures. Nothing will make you more proud than hearing success stories of your students who have made it big in their careers.