Teaching has someone (a teacher, a paraprofessional, a parent) helping someone (a student, a friend, a colleague) learn something. The content and the manner of helping are both very important. Learning to put the content together with the helping requires a lot of effort, and a lot of time. Teachers, in general, learn most of what they actually do on the job, but reading and studying help.

So, in simple terms, here is the big picture:

  1. Math = thinking logically with numbers and space

    The question is: Teaching + Math = ?

    We can work on this equation a bit, and we get the following equation:

  2. (good) Teaching + Math (ideas)  = kids learn and like math and want to learn more.

If you prefer words to equations, read this:

Math instruction should inspire students to think mathematically: to engage ideas about space and number and to explore the relationships of those ideas to each other.

This description of math instruction sounds simple in words. But we all know it’s not that simple in reality. Even though getting there can take a lot of work, the journey is worthwhile. As people who help students learn math, it’s a very significant accomplishment to inspire students to think mathematically.

For those who teach math, including paraprofessionals who help teach math, one critical part of the work involves learning a bit more than they already know about math as a set of ideas. This extra knowledge is needed by many elementary teachers and also by some high school teachers. You too might need a bit more knowledge about math.

In order to help you learn a bit more about math ideas, check out the Toolkit in this unit! We’ve designed it to be easy to understand and helpful.