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Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to school: Time to engage parents and students

Diane J. Briars, NCTM PresidentBy NCTM President Diane J. Briars
August 2014

It’s August—back-to-school time. As you plan for the new school year, don’t forget to make explicit plans for engaging parents and families. As you well know, parents can be invaluable supports for their children’s mathematics learning. While it’s helpful to send parents basic information about their children’s mathematics class, such as course outlines, assignments, and descriptions of teacher expectations, they typically need much more than that to be prepared to support their children’s mathematics learning, as the following examples illustrate:
  • The father of a third-grader who says, “Every night, my son and I fight about math! Like last night. I told him you have to start adding from the right; he says ‘No, you don’t. That’s not the way we do it. I can start adding at the left—or anywhere.’ He gets the right answers—and explains to me what he’s doing. But it’s not the way I learned it! Is that okay? I’m very frustrated!”
  • The mother of a seventh grader who calls the principal, complaining that her daughter’s mathematics teacher is not teaching; she’s just asking students questions instead of showing students “the steps.”
  • The mother of a high school student who complains, “Ms. Smith is not a good teacher. When my son does his homework, there are problems that he struggles to solve. If she were a good teacher, he would be able to work all the problems easily.”
Sound familiar? Read more of Diane's current President's Corner message.

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