What scared you when you were a kid?
Maybe you were afraid of the dark or the monster potentially lurking under your bed. Or maybe you saw a horror movie that made you terrified of clowns, dolls, or monsters.
But childhood fears can also be less sinister. Maybe your anxiety creeped in whenever you had to give a presentation in front of your peers, take a test, or work out challenging math problems that you could never seem to get right.
Someone experiencing math anxiety does not necessarily lack the ability in mathematics, but they are unable to perform at their full potential because their fear impacts their ability to succeed. Studies suggest that highly anxious math students will avoid situations in which they will have to complete mathematical calculations. Unfortunately, math avoidance leads to less competency, exposure, and math practice, which only increases students’ anxiety—leaving students unprepared to achieve.
We see the lasting impacts of this fear firsthand when recruiting for our Math Classroom Coaching (MCC) program. People’s demeanor often changes with just the mention of the “m” word. We hear things like: “I’m not good at math. I’m just not a math person. I couldn’t possibly tutor students.”
But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are three reasons why you can still help, even if you’re scared of math.
- You’ll always have support from the classroom teacher and one of our MCC coordinators. Our MCC program works with sixth and seventh graders, which means you won’t need to help students solve complex equations. You’ll receive the lessons in advance, so you’ll have time to refresh yourself on the concepts beforehand. If there’s ever anything you’re unsure about, the teacher and one of our MCC coordinators are on hand to help.
- You can model good behavior when things get tough. MCC works to increase students’ enjoyment of math and decrease their fear. Often students shut down when something gets too challenging. Having some fear of math means you can relate to students who freeze when they can’t quickly figure out the answer. You can model good behavior—showing that it’s okay to be unsure, ask questions, and even get things wrong sometimes. When students recognize that there’s nothing wrong with not having all the answers and making mistakes, they’re more open to trying—and that practice helps them learn to succeed.
- Math is just part of the equation. Our primary goal of MCC is to raise students’ confidence in their math abilities. Volunteers like you help student’s better understand math, but also provide individualized feedback that students can depend on this week. Math classroom coaches focus both on reinforcing math concepts and forming a positive connection with students. We want students to know that members of the community genuinely care about them and their success.
There’s a lot of things to be afraid of, but math doesn’t have to be one of them. Join us in helping students become less fearful of math—you might lose some of your own math anxiety in the process!
To learn more about our Math Classroom Coaching program and to sign up to volunteer, visit https://austinpartners.org/classroom-coaching. We have more volunteer opportunities open in the spring semester, so stay tuned to our website if we currently don’t have openings that work with your schedule.
Post by: Ashley Yeaman, Communications & Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator, Austin Partners in Education