Reflections on the Self-Paced, Teacher-Guided Math Class


by Matt Richards

After several weeks of our new setup, the self-paced, teacher-guided math classes are going incredibly well. Students are taking advantage of this new setup by asking more in-depth questions, striving more for deeper understanding and less for simple completion, and many are mastering the material at a faster pace than I would have set up!

Information on how the class is working can be found in the table below. These documents outline the basics of how math class is operating.

Information Guide  and Frequently Asked Questions
7-3 Math 7-4 Math 8-3 Math 8-4 Math
Testing Calendar
7-3 Math 7-4 Math 8-3 Math 8-4 Math
Materials Folders (with pacing guides, answers, extra practice, and more)
7-3 Math 7-4 Math 8-3 Math 8-4 Math


Benefit: Students’ mindset on the classwork/mini-assessment has shifted from completing the assignment to getting the problems right and mastering the material.

I believe there will be long-term benefits to working toward mastery and not just completion. After a student has completed and self-checked the required practice items of notes, book problems, and warmup questions, he or she begins the mini-assessments. At any point during the section, students are allowed and encouraged to ask questions when understanding is less than clear.  When the mini-assessment is completed, a student comes to “check-in” the assignment. I check every question for the correct work and correct solution. If a mistake is made, I highlight the mistake. The student needs to fix the mistake and recheck-in the assignment.

The mathematical conversations that have taken place since coming back from Christmas break in all the classes have been remarkable. This new way of teaching has enabled me to have conversations on every lesson with every student. I am now able to truly teach and reach every student.

Caution: Are students truly completing the required practice items?

The plan right now is to check the required practice items at the end of every chapter, either as a student is taking the test, right before, or right after. However, as I notice some students struggling on the classwork/mini-assessment items, I occasionally look at a required practice item on the spot. These have sometimes been half-completed or fully-completed but not checked.

For students to get the absolute most out of this process, they need to be fully invested in solving and checking all items of the required practice and avoid taking shortcuts. Fully engaging in the material will enable a much deeper understanding than simply trying to get away with doing less than what is expected.

Caution: Some students are falling behind the pace.

The testing calendar provides the “last date” a student needs to complete any given test. I have been fully engaged during class time with answer questions, checking assignments, and helping students master the material. However, I have noticed a handful of students who are not working as hard as the full teacher-paced setup of the past. These students appear to not be doing much work in between classes.

Remember, there used to be assigned math homework every night under the more traditional setup. Some math work is still expected to be completed at home for the majority of the students. Plans will be put in place for students who are struggling to “keep the pace,” whether it is out of simple struggling to grasp the material or if it is because of not doing enough work and, well, slacking.

Hopefulness: Student engagement is increasing, student mastery of material is increasing, but I haven’t heard any feedback from our parent community.

I have been thrilled with the work students have been putting in while embracing this method of teaching. I imagine it has to be relieving for students to know they are allowed to make mistakes, I will work through their mistakes with them, and I will do everything I can to make sure each student will master the material.

I have yet to hear any feedback, either positive or constructive, from our parent community. I hope everyone is happy! However, if you as a parent have any questions about the new method, I would be happy to discuss any questions, concerns, etc. that you may have. My door, phone, and email inbox is always open to help. Please remember, I can only answer questions that I have been directly asked. I can not offer my support if questions are asked to other people, on Facebook groups, or to anyone who isn’t me. I would like to think I am easy to approach and open-minded to your feedback and enjoy working together to do whatever it takes to ensure your child’s success.

As always, thank you parents for all you do to enrich the lives of your children. I am thrilled to be a part of their learning experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s