Math anxiety isn’t just an issue for students. As a director of curriculum, instruction, and staff development, I’ve encountered countless teachers with math anxiety, or at least some anxiety around teaching the subject to students. The techniques for overcoming math anxiety are the same for teachers as for students, but the keys to overcoming anxiety about teaching math -- or teaching through the anxiety -- are simple: encourage multiple approaches to problem-solving and don’t be afraid to be a learner yourself.
Math isn’t everyone’s favorite
It’s not terribly surprising that elementary school teachers are sometimes anxious about teaching math. We tend to choose liberal arts and psychology as majors in college, a bit more than math and science. While I enjoyed math growing up and felt confident learning it, I myself have a degree in theater. Even teachers who were confident as student mathematicians can feel a little daunted by higher-level math concepts if we haven’t practiced them since high school.
For my teaching credential, I had to take one math methods course. Fortunately, teaching is a profession of lifelong learning and we all have the opportunity for continued training and professional development. Nevertheless, that leaves it largely up to teachers to decide for themselves that they want to devote part of that education to becoming better math teachers rather than, say, becoming better at teaching kids how to read, which is every bit as challenging as teaching math and closer to many elementary teachers’ hearts.
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