What does it look like to create a warm and inviting classroom culture? The answers to this question may vary when talking to elementary, middle and high school teachers. Building a classroom culture full of hope and possibility is essential in all subject areas. But when students enter a classroom where the subject matter is particularly intimidating, it can present a unique challenge.
Last year I had the chance to connect with Jessie Boyce when we both spoke at the ST4T Conference in Clearwater, Florida. Jess is a passionate educator, and a fellow Participate course author. Her self-paced course is titled, Creating a Culture of Trust in the Math Classroom. In this course, educators explore the necessary pieces of creating a warm and inviting classroom culture, specifically when it comes to mathematics.
EdTech Tools for Math Classrooms
Before jumping into the interview with course author Jessie Boyce, I want to share a handful of EdTech tools perfect for math classrooms. The ones on this list can help your students build confidence, extend their thinking and learn about the math connections to a variety of topics.
Video reflections in the math classroom can help students who might hesitate to share questions, give you insight into their thinking. Although I love Flipgrid because you can use it for book clubs or the share student creations, it can build a positive math culture too. Try giving students an open-ended prompt like, “What felt successful in our class this week?” This type of prompt can help them identify the positive moments in the math classroom. They can post their video responses in a Flipgrid just for you to see or for their classmates to watch too.
I love the resources from TED-Ed and include a list of reasons (and a free ebook) in this blog post. TED-Ed has an entire section dedicated to videos that connect to the math classroom. These explainer videos present topics to students with engaging animation and narration. When you visit the TED-Ed website, use the dropdown menu to search for videos on specific math topics. In the image below you get a sense of the range of math videos on their website.
Online Course on Positive Math Culture
When I learned about this new course, I knew I wanted to share it with readers. I’m a big fan of online learning opportunities that let educators explore a topic they want to learn more about. Jessie Boyce was kind enough to answer a few questions about her course, Creating a Culture of Trust in the Math Classroom, and what it looks like to create a positive math culture in your classroom.
What motivated you to write a course on this topic?
Math classes are often a place that are scary. Students are afraid to make mistakes, so they often don’t try. Everything begins with the culture set in a classroom. Focusing on relationships and creating a safe space for students makes all the difference in the world. My classroom was built on trust and caring for my students, and in return, they were eager to work hard, learn from their mistakes, and be the best versions of themselves that they could be.
Why is the topic of creating a positive math culture important to you?
This topic is important to me because all too often students are viewed as just that – students, but not necessarily people. Getting to know them as individuals is so important. Everything else will follow once a student knows that their basic needs are met.
Who is your course best suited for?
This course is geared specifically towards math, but the ideas and concepts really apply for any classroom teacher.
What is one thing an educator can do today to help build community in their classroom?
Start by listening. Authentically listening to your students, their needs and interests. When they realize that you care about them, everything else will follow.
Are you working on any other projects right now?
I’m not… I transitioned into a new position this summer and am focused on that. I have left the classroom and am working with Flipgrid, amplifying the work done by teachers and supporting educators around the globe in any way that I can.
You can learn more about Jessie Boyce’s course by visiting this enrollment page on Participate’s website: Creating a Culture of Trust in the Math Classroom. Enrollment is open now, and you can sign up at any time and get started right away. Make sure to follow along with Jess on Twitter too!