While all curriculum areas share some of the same issues and concerns, individual curriculum areas seem to also have concerns specific to them and their courses. This list looks at the top ten concerns for math teachers.
1. Prerequisite KnowledgeMath curriculum often builds on information learned in previous years. If a student does not have the required prerequisite knowledge, then a math teacher is left with the choice of either remediation or forging ahead and covering material the student might not understand.
2. Connections to Real LifeConsumer math is easily connected to daily lief. However, it can often be hard for students to see the connection between their lives and geometry, trigonometry, and even basic algebra. When students do not see why they have to learn a topic, this impacts their motivation and retention.
3. Cheating Issues
Unlike courses where students have to write essays or create detailed reports, math is often reduced to solving problems. It can be difficult for a math teacher to determine if students are cheating
. Typically, math teachers use wrong answers and incorrect solving methods to determine if students did, in fact, cheat.
4. Kids with "Math Blocks"Some students have come to believe over time that they are "just not good at math." This type of attitude can result in students not even trying to learn certain topics. Fighting this self esteem related issue can be difficult indeed.
5. Varying InstructionThe teaching of mathematics does not lend itself to a great amount of varied instruction. While teachers can have students present material, work in small groups for certain topics, and create multimedia projects dealing with math, the norm of a math classroom is direct instruction followed by a period of solving problems.
6. Dealing With AbsencesWhen a student misses a math class at key instructional points, it can be difficult for them to catch up. For example, if a student is absent on the first few days when a new topic is being discussed and explained, a teacher will be faced with the issue of helping that student learn the material on their own.
7. Grading ConcernsMath teachers, more than teachers in many other curriculum areas, need to keep up with the daily grading of assignments. It does not help a student to have a paper returned a few weeks after the unit has been completed. Only by seeing what mistakes they have made and working to correct those will they be able to use that information effectively.
8. Need for After School TutoringMath teachers typically have a lot more demands on their before and after school time from students who are requesting extra help. This requires a greater dedication on their part in many ways to help these students understand and master the topics being learned.
9. Having Students of Different Abilities in ClassMath teachers often have classes with students of varying ability levels within the same classroom. This might result from gaps in prerequisite knowledge or each student's feelings towards their own ability to learn math. Teachers must decide how to meet the needs of the individual students in their classrooms.
10. Homework IssuesMath curriculum often requires daily practice and review for mastery. Therefore, the completion of daily homework assignments is essential to learning the material. Students who do not complete their homework or who copy from other students often struggle at test time. Dealing with this issue is often very difficult for math teachers.