It’s More Than Just Teaching Math!
Palie Cantu, Middle and High School Faculty

By: Palie Cantu, Middle and High School Mathematics Teacher

As a math teacher, I am always thinking about how to help my students know themselves as capable mathematicians. Often this means more than just teaching math!

It means helping students move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset (consider reading books by Carol Dweck or Jo Boaler). I usually start the school year showing my students a TEDx video about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

This summer, the entire faculty read Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, by Daniel Willingham. This book highlights much of the important research about the adolescent brain. There has been a lot of research in recent years about learning and the brain and we know that teaching students about their brain and how it works is important.

I have been teaching math at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart since 1993. The 2019-2020 school year is the first year that I will not teach a seventh-grade math class, and my first year teaching in the high school. As I was getting ready to teach more high school students than middle school students, I recognized even more deeply the need to teach students not just math, but how to learn math.

This year, I started my math classes by having my students watch a video that explains the importance of executive functioning  and how the prefrontal cortex of children are continuing to develop until the age of 22. The more they know themselves as learners, the more they can grow.

I look forward to a year of teaching and coaching students to become better math students!

  • Forest Ridge Blog