Sometimes you just need a new way of looking at something. I have taught elementary school since 2001 at LAUSD. One of my great frustrations with public school was their tendency to just keep on chugging along, teaching a series of lessons, in order to stay on some calendar target. When I took over my first 2nd grade class it was a class made up of all 3rd grade aged students held back for failure to meet grade level standards. They had behavior issues and learning issues. But in my first quarter with them, their collective math scores shot up 20 points, from failing to satisfactory. The principal was shocked! "What did you do?" she asked. I didn't do anything that I considered revolutionary. They were scheduled to learn multiplication. But they were very weak with adding and subtracting. So we went backwards to go forward. As far back as we needed to go.
My specialty and my philosophy are one and the same, and really pretty simple. What is holding you up? What is standing in your way? Nothing you are being asked to learn is too far out of your ability to master it. But you have to work on the right piece of the puzzle. There was no point drilling multiplication with students who needed a firm grasp of addition. And I believe that lesson applies to every subject. If you are studying algebra, you must be fluent in arithmetic. If you are studying writing, you must know grammar and punctuation.
And the extra bonus of this method, is that you work first on a subject that is easier than the daunting one which you are having trouble mastering. You build your confidence one step at a time and when you arrive at your trouble spot you may see it with brand new eyes, and it really isn't as incomprehensible as you first believed.
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