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Encouraging Students


"I'm bad at math." 

"This is too hard."

"I'll never understand."

    If those are phrases you are hearing in your classroom here, some suggestions for things I have found helpful. I start by asking which part they don't understand.  This often gets the response, "All of it, none of it makes sense."  This used to bother me quite a bit as it was often asked after 10+ minutes of instruction or not mentioned until it was individual work time.  

When they say none of it, I will often reply with let's start the beginning, I'm sure there is a part you understand.  Right now we are solving and graphing inequalities.  Students may not understand what x is but they remember the alligator eats the bigger number from elementary school so I start replacing x with numbers and we find what is true.  

Before solving inequalities we solved equations and I used the word inverse hundreds of times as we solved.  When a student is stuck on inequalities, I just mentioned what do you see and what is the inverse.  This so far seems to get them unstuck with solving inequalities.  

Finding a prior connection no matter how far back you have to go let's them feel a small success which you can build on.  I am also using student strategies to help.  Some of my students have come up with saying to remember different things in math so I share that with the other students as long as it's mathematically correct.  First, I give the student credit and share well _______ always says __________ maybe that will help you.  This makes the student who came up with it feel good and students relate to each other so struggling students may give that saying a try.  

Overall, it's small connections, repeated over and over again that are helping. 


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