5 tips for maths teachers to help students understand maths


Maths can be a difficult subject to grasp at any age. With all the different formulas and concepts that are given to students, it is no surprise that a lot of the time, they don’t actually understand how or why they are using them.

So, for those of you in Maths teaching jobs, here are 5 ways to make sure your students are understanding the material they are faced with and not just memorising the procedures.

1. Make learning about more than just maths

By connecting maths to the world around them, pupils can be encouraged to apply what they are learning in a range of different scenarios.

For example, the works of Picasso could be used alongside geometry teaching to reinforce mathematical thinking, or pupils could use everyday household objects to calculate elements such as size or volume.

By making the process more memorable, pupils are more likely to retain the key information and to then use it in everyday settings.

2. Get pupils to pair up

Encourage pupils to learn from each other as they’ll often be times when some understand the concepts and others don’t.

By pairing up pupils, they can support each other and reinforce areas of their knowledge, while also going through the key theory again.

3. Make maths personal

If pupils feel they have an element of control over how they are learning, various studies have found that it can boost their motivation and learning outcomes.

Pupils are able to understand how they learn best, so you may want to give them several different ways of completing a task or project.

Teachers can then track the progress of each pupil and can focus on additional areas if there are still gaps in their understanding.

4. Do things step by step

Look to break concepts down into smaller manageable steps as this can help to build understanding and enable pupils to have a process to follow.

Lessons can be planned to ensure that steps follow on from each other or that additional knowledge is gained each time, while refresher tasks at the beginning and end of each lesson can be used to judge a pupil’s level of understanding.

Homework tasks can also be used to revisit previous steps in the process in order to strengthen learning too, and the more this is done, the stronger their memory of it should become.

5. Rely on the power of patterns and connections

Many elements of maths are made up of patterns and learners need to know to be on the look-out for them.

By linking the teaching of new topics and processes to previous work and things that are already known, it should be possible to embed a deeper level of mathematical understanding.

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