On Leadership and Teaching in the Math Classroom

Leadership seems to be one of the flavors of our time.  While there are many “tips” and “lists” of leadership essentials, the real measure is one’s ability to lead.  In business I deliver value by seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges, sometimes called solving problems, nothing more.  When solving problems with my team, I always value process m0re than outcomes.

In a classroom, I would propose that it’s even more important to emphasize the process of dealing with a problem rather than the accuracy of the answer.  The tricky part is that children are always curious about whether they got the right answer.   Therefore, teaching strategies to lead students to dig deeper into their answers is really necessary.

At some point, most teachers were introduced to the Socratic method.  Having applied the method effectively in business I would recommend using it as guidance for deeper thinking with students in the style of a negotiation.  After getting the answers from a student, add more detailed questions such as, “Why?” “What changed?” “How else could you get this answer?” “Is there any other possible answer?”  And the always powerful, “Is there anything else I need to know?” This method may be harder to use with more objective subjects like math and science but still has huge potential.  Here is one interesting use of the Socratic method in a math class: http://www.mathmaniacs.org/lessons/01-binary/socratic.html

In my view, the most fundamental responsibility of a teacher is guiding students to learn. The original Latin definition of Teacher is similar to leading or guiding the student to learn.  Great educators exhibit not only passion for the subject, but compassion for the student who makes a mistake.  So, in addition to knowledge, I would propose that leadership is one of the key abilities a great educator should have.

What do you think?  Share your ideas on leadership, great educators or math intervention with me here on the blog.


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