Mathnasium of Ellicott City's Top 5 Moments!

Apr 22, 2023 | Ellicott City

1. Our favorite “aha!” moment with a student.

A: Generically speaking, I’ve found that my favorite “aha!” moments are when I come up with a creative way to help the student grasp the concept and when I can see the student light up over something I’ve said or helped them with. One example is when a student was struggling to understand linear slope. When counting “rise” or “run” she was counting the space we were starting at. So we pulled out a board game and rolled the dice. “Okay so we rolled a 5. Now move 5 spaces.” In board games, she knew not to count the space her piece started at. Once she saw that, she could always think of board games when deciding where to start counting on her graphs.

2. A time when a student earned a reward.

A: I had a student who was really wanting to redecorate the name tag on her binder. She was a student who struggled to stay on task and complete work efficiently. She was told if, there was 15 minutes left in her session and she had finished 10 pages, she could redecorate her spine. I’d never seen her get so much work done in a session. She was able to redecorate her name tag and had a blast doing so. I was proud to have set an effective incentive for her. After she was finished, we discussed how much work she got done compared to previous sessions. We talked about how she felt accomplished, that she was able to do so much work, and how proud I was of her focus and drive. She still struggles from time to time, but ever since, I’ve found that she works much more efficiently.

3. Positive parent experience.

A: I did an initial assessment with a child who really hated math (and did not hesitate to make that abundantly clear). By the end of his time with me, he was smiling from ear to ear and would not stop talking about how excited he was to keep coming back. The parent thanked me afterwards saying their son had never had a positive experience with math before. They told me that their son is very gifted but has never put in any effort because he didn’t enjoy it. To me that is more special than any concrete improvement. We can drill math into students until we’re blue in the face, but if they don’t have any desire to learn, it’s never going to stick. Cultivating the curiosity and problem solving part of the brain is my number one goal with every student.

4. Favorite ways to teach concepts.

A: This may seem like a cop out answer, but to me, it’s the only correct one. My favorite way to teach math changes based on the student’s favorite way to learn. For many students, that’s with manipulatives. Using place value blocks to practice identifying tenths and hundredths. Using our fractional magnet bars to visualize the size of fractional pieces. Using counters to help with splitting a number into equal groups. But the fact is there is no one size fits all approach to teaching math concepts. Sometimes, you need to teach the same thing to the same kid multiple times and multiple ways before it clicks. But there’s nothing better than seeing a kid’s eyes light up when it finally does. That’s why I say that my favorite way to teach math will always be the same as the student’s favorite way to learn.

5. A time when a student scored well on a test.

A: Not a test, but sometimes a student will get a page completely correct despite the fact that it’s been clear they were struggling with a concept. They might even say something like, “All of these are probably wrong.” I love getting to hand the page back to the kid and actually see the pride that they feel when they realize they got it all right. A lot of times they won’t even believe it. The best part is getting to tell the kid that they should have more faith in themselves and being able to tell that with every problem they got right, their self-confidence increases, even if it’s just a little bit.