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  • Writer's pictureRita D. Williams, Ph.D.

Math Giving You the Heebie Jeebies? Part 2

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

In my last blog entry, I talked about Dr. Sian Beilock’s research on elementary school teachers possessing as well as passing along to students high levels of math anxiety. While we have numerous K-5 educators who are truly rocking out mathematics instruction, there are some who may not be as comfortable teaching mathematics yet are still required to do so. In these instances, I have two recommendations:

1. District and school leaders can provide professional development focused solely on

providing mathematics instruction for teachers.

Courses- yes courses- can be offered by domain (i.e. Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base 10, Geometry, Measurement and Data) and should focus on content as well as conceptual knowledge needed to make connections in mathematics. As posed in my previous entry, How can we expect our elementary school colleagues to be able to provide high levels of instruction in every subject under the sun? And why do we fail to offer content mastery professional learning for elementary school teachers to help fill in the inevitable gaps?

I am happy to share that F1NE-TUNE is able to support districts and schools as they provide training focused on teaching mathematics content to its participants. We can customize sessions according to each district’s/school’s needs.

2. K - 5 educators can invest in (or request that their school leaders invest in) John Van de Walle’s books- Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Developmentally

Appropriate Instruction for Grades Pre-K -2 and the same titled book for Grades 3 - 5.

The books are designed with three objectives:

  1. To illustrate what it means to teach student-centered, problem-based mathematics.

  2. To serve as a reference for the mathematics content and research-based instructional strategies suggested for the specific grade levels.

  3. To present a large collection of high quality tasks and activities that can engage students in the mathematics that is important for them to learn.

Educators who need a stronger foundation of mathematical understanding will benefit

from approaching the books as students and participating in professional learning

communities with others seeking the same goal of strengthening their content


To better meet the ever-changing and ever-increasing needs of our students, schools and communities, all educators must be lifelong learners. Whether we need support in content knowledge, pedagogy or engaging all stakeholders should not be the concern. We must focus on ensuring we develop in the necessary areas, so we can accomplish the primary goal of education, which is to positively impact the lives of all students. Period.

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