Saturday, October 24, 2009


Do you get easily frustrated when a student doesn't understand what you are trying to teach?
- Samphor

Easily? No. I've only been teaching for a little while and I've had some children not understanding. Sometimes it's because it's a hard concept and will take them a while anyway, sometimes it's because they have massive gaps in their learning, sometimes it is my fault for not explaining well enough or not being able to explain in various different ways. I get frustrated at myself for not being able to get it explained, but I would try my best not to let it show to the student.

However, I do have a confession to make. Times tables and other maths surrounding that still makes me feel that ball of rising panic I felt when I was 8 years old. It is really hard to stop telling myself "I'm not good at maths" and just get down and teach it. It is like a foreign language to me still! I'm improving a lot, and I'm looking forward to understanding it more and more as the years go past. So perhaps that's why I am being patient with the kids- I was like them. I just didn't get something. I know how it feels, and in fact, still feel it. It is my job to help them feel successful so they don't label themselves as 'no good' like I did and put up a mental block for themselves. I want my students to feel that even if they're not getting it NOW they will get it later, and it's okay to struggle with things for a while, it doesn't mean you're a failure and no good- these are hard concepts to master! (for any subject, not just Maths).

I think that's a really important thing for teachers to hold onto, and any students reading this: You CAN improve whatever you're having trouble with, be it art or maths or English or Science or even P.E.

Some teachers get frustrated but I have a feeling it's because they are annoyed that they don't know how else to explain it, or they really want kids to all 'get' important concepts... forgetting that not all students will get there straight away. These same teachers often resent it when the student has the concept explained in a totally different way by someone else and 'gets' it. I honestly don't understand that feeling. I just want the student to understand it, if it's because of me, great, if not, then I have just learnt a new way to attempt it with another student the next year, and this student can now move on. Huzzahs all round!

Parents, you can help your student's frustration by learning what they're attempting to do, and working through it- use different ways to explain it if you can, perhaps one of us will be able to ease this child's mind! Then we all win.


  1. Frustration? A part of being a teacher and sometimes a useful motivation to find another way of getting the message across. Easier said than done, unfortunately!

  2. Well it is a part of their life.


  3. Wow, it's really cool to hear a teacher's personal perspective on math anxiety. It's been an anvil hanging over my head all my life, and I'm only now starting to get it through my head that at least half the problem is the anxiety based beliefs I have about my ability themselves!


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