Three ways to improve classroom performance!

Recently, I have noticed that the teachers in my area don’t think highly of their students. I’ve heard such complaints as “Bobby won’t stop fidgeting! He isn’t focusing on his work! The other students are distracted because of his outrageous behavior!” At first glance, this may seem like the student is at fault for everything. However, that may not be entirely true, and in fact it may be that they are simply not getting what they need in school.

The middle schools in my district have done three things wrong as of late: 1) Removing a grade from the rubric. In fact, they removed the “D” grade and now “F” is anything 69% and below. 2) Making it so that P.E. is no longer a requirement. Instead, this has been turned into an elective course; given to students by chance. Am I alone in noticing that P.E. gives adolescents structure for exercise standards, helps their bodies develop properly, and makes them burn off excess energy? No wonder Bobby is fidgeting in class. 3) Instead of having students take notes in class, they are given a worksheet that does not give sufficient information on the mathematical processes they are supposed to be learning.

As a math tutor, that last point bothers me greatly. The best way for a youth/adolescent to understand how a process works is for them to actively write it. When somebody writes notes, the process becomes cognitively mapped. They are then more capable of utilizing the information properly. After they have written it themselves, it will become several times easier for them to solve problems. One cannot be expected to be a professional at PEMDAS without first learning how to use it correctly.

Now, in my opinion, the following three steps are vital for a positive classroom experience.

1) Raise your hand. If you are having problems understanding a concept, you need to ask questions and get clarification. Remember, some of your peers may not understand the concept either. So there is no shame in asking for help. However, if your teacher makes you feel uncomfortable/scared to raise your hand, then you should either voice it to them after the class is over or take it up with the principal of your school.

2) Take thorough notes on the subject, even if you understand it fully. This is better in the long-run, as a lot of concepts and principles tie into each other. For instance, you may find it easier to handle a confusing algebraic equation with those notes on dividing fractions you wrote five months ago. On top of that, you never know when your notes might help a peer who doesn’t understand as well as you do or was sick on that day.

3) Know your limits. Don't push them too far. A lot of people don’t understand this concept, adults included. If you know that there is a lot of work to do, with three days to do it, spread it out. Don’t wait for the last minute to get it all done. Conversely, don’t do it all right away. If you rush to get the work done, it will not stick. However, if you do a section at a time you are improving your chances of remembering everything. If you only have a night to complete it, remember to pace yourself and take regular breaks. Breaks should be taken every 1.5 to 2 hours. If you push your limits, you leave yourself open to anxiety as well as mental exhaustion. Both of which will hinder your performance in the classroom.


Ethan M.

Life isn't easy, but math can be.

50+ hours
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