Math is one of the few academic subjects in which multitudes of students struggle. Oftentimes, students consider themselves either as a ‘math person’ or not, and this notion tends to stick into adulthood. Many of them lose confidence in their math ability, and develop math anxiety. For students who started out enjoying math have a second thought in later education. A 2017 study conducted by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs were likelier than those in non-STEM fields to change majors. In fact, 52% of those who initially declared themselves as math majors ended up majoring in something else. But how do we eliminate the persistent ideas about innate math ability? Here are 3 things to consider when choosing an effective math lesson!

**Math Lesson Goals**

The first step to math success is to set math lesson goals. According to Stephen Pauley’s Three C’s of Goal Settings, the components to effective goal setting are **clarity**, **consistency**, and **commitment**. Teachers and students should work together and define math goals with specific details and a measurable timeline. To understand where each student individually stands academically, math assessments should be implemented before setting the math goals and throughout math learning. The goals should be challenging in order to maximize motivation to achieve them and satisfaction once they are reached. After clarifying the math goals, teachers should then create lesson content that helps students work towards the math goals. Since goals are not reached overnight, teachers, students and parents should work together and stay committed in reaching them. When a student achieves the goals, it is important to celebrate the math success, giving extra motivation and boosting confidence.

**Math Lesson Content**

Canada has experienced a significant decline in PISA math scores since 2003, partly due to the lack of a solid math foundation. Canadian teachers often introduce new math concepts before the students are comfortable moving on to the next topic. An effective math lesson, on the other hand, focuses on fewer, high quality tasks. Teachers should make sure students have time to think and process information before proceeding with a new topic. Additionally, teachers should allow for re-covering some math content students find difficulties in. A successful math lesson will also make math visible in other areas. By drawing attention to how math is used in other subjects and real-life applications, students may develop different perspectives on the importance of math.

**Math Lesson Involvement**

An effective math lesson engages students in productive mathematical conversations. By posing math questions that encourage discussion and debate, students are able to provide their aspects of the learning process, explain and justify their thinking, and deepen their understanding in the process. Other creative methods such as thumbs up/thumbs down or classroom response systems to gather information from the whole class or individuals simultaneously assess individual and collective student understanding. A product math lesson also acknowledges the importance of mistakes in learning. By reminding students that errors are expected and natural and encouraging students to ask questions to clarify the reasoning behind the solutions, students recognize mistakes as a good thing that leads to enhanced learning, and are empowered to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

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**Citations:**

Are We Teaching the Math Kids Need? – https://www.edutopia.org/

Who Changes Majors? (Not Who You Think) – https://www.insidehighered.com/

Opinion: Math scores are falling across Canada, particularly in the Prairies – https://financialpost.com/

Classroom Goal Setting Guide – https://mathandmovement.com/

5 Tips for New Year’s Math Goals – https://www.scholastic.com/

What Makes for a ‘Good’ Maths Lesson? – https://calculate.org.au/

Talking Math: 6 Strategies for Getting Students to Engage in Mathematical Discourse – https://www.gettingsmart.com/