My own personal experience with the learning of Maths in primary school had been quite unpleasant – low grades in red marks was a consistent feature in my report card. My interest in Maths plummeted as I could not grasp the concepts which seem to be difficult. I struggled with problem solving and algebra. The turning point in my life was when I was in lower secondary. I had a very good Maths teacher, Mrs Wong who helped me see Maths in a new light. She helped me make connections between the mathematical concepts and daily life and that Maths can be fun! I can now understand how important it is to have a good foundation in Maths.
At the same time, I need to be familiar with the documents that influence state policy and teacher practice and curriculum guidelines to stay relevant in my profession. I believe that as a teacher of Maths, I must also know the learning continuum for Maths and the focus at each level of a child’s learning. Making connections, an integral part of learning, the linking of one idea to another helps children to remain focused in their learning. Each concept builds on another – pieces of a jigsaw equally important for the whole picture to be in place. My familiarity with the Common Core standards for Maths and the Curriculum Framework is essential in charting the progress of children in their understanding of Maths. Reading such material with understanding of how these pieces of information fit together to form a bigger picture of things is crucial.
I believe that children must be given the opportunity and time to explore Maths, to identify patterns in their learning environment and solve problems. Experiential learning and personal reflection is an integral part of building up of Maths concepts. Letting children to struggle through their problems will help them to reflect what they know and how they can apply what they know. Helping children not to give up easily and to persevere can be unnerving. Initially I found this to be quite a challenge as my first instinct would be to prompt the correct answer to the children. I have had to hold back, give the children time to reflect and think through. I would then step in by asking questions, to help children make connections with what they know-drawing from their earlier experiences. When I encourage children to make predictions, the children are involved in a higher level of thinking.