Two Classroom Strategies to Reduce Students’ Math Anxiety
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Two Classroom Strategies to Reduce Students’ Math Anxiety


(light electronic music) – Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m just not a math person,” but maybe you’ve even said it yourself? Many of us feel tension, apprehension and fear of situations involving math, this is called math anxiety. Math anxiety is different
from just not liking math, it’s a physical and mental response, that can be crippling and keep you from performing at your
best, because your brain is spending too much
energy on being anxious. In addition to affecting
day to day math performance, math anxiety can keep students away from entire career paths, as they seek to avoid
math courses altogether. So how can we stop math
anxiety from spreading? Well, children start
developing math anxiety in the early grades and
when parents and teachers have anxiety about math
themselves, they can pass it on. One important strategy for teachers is becoming aware of how they
talk to students about math, first of all, don’t disparage
your own math skills, teachers should also avoid
consoling a struggling student by saying, “It’s okay,
not everyone can be good “at these types of problems,” the student might think you mean, “I’m sorry you’ve failed,
math is too hard for you.” A better way to support a
student would be to say, “Yes, this is challenging,
but I’m confident “that you could work through
it, if you stick with it,” follow this up by offering
concrete strategies for studying or other ways
to approach the problem. Practicing mindfulness is another way to combat math anxiety, there are many mindfulness techniques, that involve simply relaxing and attending to the present moment, which can help the brain
focus on doing math, instead of getting distracted by anxiety, recent studies have shown that students who participated in mindfulness exercises reported feeling more
calm during math exams and had more correct responses than students who didn’t participate. Mindfulness activities can take
as little as three minutes, to have a successful mindfulness activity, follow these three tips, one, explain the purpose of the activity to help students relax,
focus and prepare to learn, two, prepare your classroom, make sure students have the
necessary physical space and are comfortable in the room, younger students can sit on the floor, against the wall or at a desk, three, read your activity script
in a calm, relaxed manner, pausing between lines to allow students to take in their experience. Being conscious of the
way we speak to students and using mindfulness activities are ways you can help your students
be more successful in reducing math anxiety. For more information on
evidence based strategies to address math anxiety, go to ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.

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