Nurturing a Mathematical Mindset in Students

Nurturing a Mathematical Mindset in Students

Whether you've had a bad experience with Maths in the past or not,  most of us can recall a time when we felt like giving up because the Maths problem was too hard, or we just didn't get it. Perhaps you have heard these phrases,

  • Some people have a Maths mind, and some don't.
  • Men are better at Maths than women.
  • Maths requires a good memory.
  • Children who have difficulty with Maths naturally do not have a Maths mind.
  • Maths is a series of rules to be memorised and followed.

 

Holding onto damaging beliefs like these makes it hard for students to be successful, no matter what. Maths anxiety is real and often leads to students experiencing negativity during Maths classes. Creating an environment where students feel excited and encouraged about Maths is the first step in the process of nurturing a mathematical mindset.

Did you know that in fact EVERYONE can learn Maths to a high level? Communicating growth mindsets to children from an early age will ensure success in Maths. Students need to understand the difference between being 'smart' and recognising greatness when they have learned something new.  Developing a Mathematical Mindset is crucial in developing confidence in Maths.

This year, at St Peter Chanel School, we have spent time reflecting with teachers around their own personal Mathematical Mindset and its impact on their teaching of Maths. We wanted to make sure we had the core elements clear so that the students could be supported successfully. Using the 7 Positive Norms in Maths (as described in youcubed http://www.youcubed.org/wp-content/uploads/Positive-Classroom-Norms2.pdf ) teachers have explored ways to develop confidence and success in Maths and began establishing expectations by painting a picture of what a Maths class should look like. Students have been encouraged to experience productive struggle with teachers consciously allowing students to have time to solve problems individually or in a group without intervening too soon. A strong emphasis was placed on forming a strong support structure, establishing expectations for learning in Maths and fostering excitement and inquiry so that to maximise engagement.

What the teachers have noticed in their students is, not only a shift in attitude towards learning Maths, but the students are living and breathing Maths in many different areas of school life. Students have reported that they feel successful and more willing to have a go at solving Maths problems, while teachers have noticed that by allowing students time to explore, make mistakes and discuss together there has been a growing positivity and change in students' mindset towards Maths.

Most of all, through developing Mathematical Mindsets with their teachers, the students have realised that Maths can be fun!