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ERIC Number: EJ1217085
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019-Apr
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Learning to See Students' Mathematical Strengths
Skinner, Abbe; Louie, Nicole; Baldinger, Evra M.
Teaching Children Mathematics, v25 n6 p339-344 Apr 2019
One of the most important jobs mathematics teachers have is supporting students and helping them to develop confidence in their own capabilities as mathematical thinkers. Children who do not believe in themselves are unlikely to share their ideas, persevere through challenges, or take risks that lead to new insights. Yet many students have no sense of their own mathematical strengths. They are conditioned to see themselves as the dust of the mathematical universe and see others as the stars. Teachers are also conditioned to see some children as "bright" or "gifted" and others as "struggling" or having "special needs." Such conditioning shapes whom teachers call on to speak in class discussions, whose thinking teachers carefully scaffold, and provide with open-ended challenges, and which students are provided with basic practice--in sum, choosing who gets opportunities to engage with rich, rigorous mathematics and see themselves as mathematically capable. This article introduces the idea that teachers can disrupt their conditioning to open new possibilities in classrooms. Described here is a lesson that changed how one of the authors, Abbe Skinner, understood her students and herself as a teacher. Five interwoven strategies are introduced and discussed that can help teachers see many ways of being mathematically "smart."
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-9840; Fax: 703-476-2570; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A