My name is David Woods . I’m a Curriculum Designer at DreamBox Learning . Before joining DreamBox, I spent seven years in the classroom teaching both junior high and high school mathematics.
One challenge I encountered in the classroom and that all educators face is the balancing act between tailoring instruction for an individual student while simultaneously ensuring accessibility for all students. This issue became more and more important as my class sizes went up and, well, resources available to support my students went down.
Facing this challenge, I developed two professional goals for the school year. First, student confidence would help drive my students’ academic performance. I committed myself to not only teaching for understanding but also developing my students’ self-confidence that’s needed to learn and grow. Second, for students to be successful they had to view their learning in mathematics as a lifelong endeavor, not simply a daily or a yearly destination based on my test or state test. By celebrating their progress even small milestones, my students saw math in terms of how far they have come, not much further they have yet to travel.
Empowering students to confidently see themselves as mathematicians has no small feat. By the time my students reach me as 6th graders, they had often been trapped, labeled and grouped, to the point where they believe they’re either good at math or not good at math. I worked hard to shift to focus to what each student was able to do instead of what they weren’t able to do. We’ve all heard too many students say, “I can’t do that”, or “It’s too hard”, and we know that’s often a student’s self-image holding them back. And junior high students often feel invisible, so I scheduled frequent check-ins with each individual student so they knew I was committed to them and their progress.
Every student has talents and strengths that we can tap into as educators in order to captivate and empower the student. It’s our job as educators to help each student grow both in the classroom and in confidence. And when we are able to do that, students can truly do extraordinary things.