Diary of a teacher: Struggle in grade 7

Grade 7b is an extremely diverse class. In Maths, I have 13 students as the “basic course”. Of these 13, many seem to hate Maths. Nothing new there, I hear you say? To me it is… I want my students to feel like they CAN do Maths, do feel like they know what it’s for. But grade 7b is far from this.

After sick leave last week, I got back today to someone telling me, the kids are sick of fractions. But when I got to class, I quickly realized that this is not it. The kids were extremely overwhelmed by the most basic questions. So we backtracked…. and it seems like we have to go way back before we can catch up. 

This is where the trouble begins… the curriculum says they have already done this. Formally speaking, the 13 students in the basic course, who, according to last year’s teacher, were the ones who couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it, have no time to catch up. 
No worries, we will. 

So what do I do with these Maths-hating, “I can’t do Maths”-saying, generally occupied with other things and problems teenagers? 

  • Make sure they have some positive experience… start off with something they can do or that is relatively “easy” (and at the same time use this period to set boundaries and rules, which is another thing the class struggles with).
  • Focus on the main aspects of fractions and decimals in order to get to what is meant to be done according to the curriculum
  • Make them explain and reflect instead of completing typical drill-based exercises
  • Allow time for us to get to know each other

As far as behaviour goes, that’s another story for another day. But we’ll get to this! I can already tell you that grade 7 will probably be my main opportunity for learning this year and as such, you will probably read more about them as we go along. Thanks for reading and please do post your comments, ideas and anything else!

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