Series: About Early Math

Secondary Math Influences Future Elementary School Teachers

Dr. Linda Griffin, a former secondary math teacher who now works as a pre-service teacher educator, discusses some of her observations about the United States’ consistently lukewarm feelings towards math. She argues that secondary math can have an enormous effect on students who are planning to go on to teach elementary school.

The author points out that most elementary school teachers are white (81 percent) and female (87 percent), a section of the population who typically experiences math anxiety. Unfortunately, math-anxious teachers tend to gloss over certain math topics and may even cause their students to experience a similar anxiety towards math. Indeed, most students enter kindergarten with positive feelings towards math but lose that confidence throughout their experience in school.

Griffin argues that strong secondary math teachers can stop this trend. She lays out a few steps they can take on the path to improving their students’ relationship with math. First on that list is acknowledging incorrect answers and using them as a starting point for discussion. It is an effective strategy to utilize in elementary school classrooms.