Student-centered, negotiated, and active mathematical environment describes my philosophy as related to the teaching of mathematic. The philosophy focuses on the individual learning needs of each learner. With respect to my approach to teaching this subject, I always ask myself the question: What approach or strategy do instructors adopt to teach mathematics effectively? In order to meet the needs of every student, there is the need for the teacher to utilize diverse teaching strategies and practices, such as lectures, facilitated discussions, and examination, among others as dictated by the situation and the learners needs (Sobel & Maletskv, 1988; Allen, 2008). From my considerable experience in teaching and learning mathematics, I contend that the role of an instructor is complex and diverse, as opposed to a simple lecturer preparing well in the classroom.
On top of demonstrating a solid background knowledge of mathematics, effective instructors need to possess excellent teaching skills to teach, promote, and help the learners good comprehension (Hiebert, et al., 1997). To meet the needs of diverse students, I have to serve as a guide and facilitator in the mathematics learning experience, rather than a mere transfer of knowledge (Sobel & Maletskv, 1988). A critical element of my philosophy is student motivation, which as a teacher, I use to help the learners to actively examine and expand their thinking, create and foster an enriching environment in which learners share and construct their own knowledge and accurate understanding of the content.
To ensure effective learning, the question: How do students learn mathematics? helps me improve the learning experience. My philosophy is based on the premise that mathematics students need to learn independently and actively (Hiebert, et al., 1997). They need to think critically and understand deeply what they learn. From a mathematics perspective, learning is not a simple task in which students copy paste directly what they have been taught. On the contrary, learning is an active process in which the students construct their own understanding of the concepts (Carpenter, Franke & Levi, 1999). My philosophy seeks to ensure students learn best by fostering collaboration and understanding, for example by stimulating prior knowledge and experience, using discourse and encouraging critical reasoning. Through this, learners can enjoy the delight of learning and acquire the confidence from the practice of exploring and constructing knowledge, which is critical not only for building knowledge but also for solving demanding problems.
Besides that, the design of the mathematics instructions should foster a learning-by-doing experience in which the students learn by doing (Allen, 2008). Moreover, the instructor needs to align the curriculum according to the specific learning needs, standards and assessment of the students, and incorporate a wide range of technology media to facilitate and improve instruction and learning. Technology is an important and integral part of my philosophy and approach to teaching mathematics. To advance my effectiveness in math instruction, I strive to make my students feel comfortable with the large variety of technologies that are increasingly becoming available and applicable in education. Besides incorporating computer simulations and numerical experiments into the curriculum to improve the learners comprehension, teachers should avail course materials on the Internet, including syllabi, group assignments, and assessments.
However, I avoid overuse of technology because there are certain topics in mathematics where learners are required to learn how to use their brain as opposed to such media. There is more and less effective application of technology. Instructors need to make their learners aware that much like a compass or protractor, they should use the different technologies as tools. By striking balance between the use of traditional and technological media in instructors, teachers can create and maintain learning contexts that maximize both the instruction and learning experience (Carpenter, Franke & Levi, 1999).Therefore, at the core of my philosophy is the need for the instructors to create and maintain a classroom that maximizes both the teaching and learning experience.
Similar to the premise that instructors need to adopt a wide range of teaching and learning strategies, learners also demonstrate mathematical understanding differently. Given this factor, I use a range of forms of assessments with my students to allow them the chance to demonstrate their comprehension of mathematics in different ways. The diverse assessments include writing assignments, student interview, assigning individual/group quizzes, and use of portfolios, among others (Sobel & Maletskv, 1988).
Allen, D.S. (2008). Embracing Mathematics: On becoming a teacher and changing with mathematics. New York: Routledge.
Carpenter, T.P., Franke, M.L., Levi, L. (2003). Thinking Mathematically: Integrating arithmetic & algebra in elementary school. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hiebert, et al. (1997). Making sense teaching and learning mathematics with understanding. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Ostrow, J. (1999). Making problems, creating solutions challenging young mathematicians. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
Sobel, M A., Maletskv, E. M. (1988). Teaching mathematics: A sourcebook of aids, activities, and strategies. NJ: Prentice Hall.
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