Years ago, veteran math teacher Richard Strausz attended a conference that changed the way he taught for the rest of his life.
One seemingly tiny tip really stuck with him.
Want to hear it?
Here goes: Let’s say you’re working with a student and you need a jumping-off point. You’re setting up a math problem, for example.
It would make sense to start by saying something like, "Here's an easy problem," and then lay out a basic example.
But using that terminology, “here’s an easy problem,” sets the student up for failure, Strausz said. If you’re the student and you get it correct, well, it was easy anyway, right? What was the big deal?
And if you get it wrong or struggle to come up with the answer, then you might think, “I must really be stupid. I couldn’t even do the easy problem.”
So, as the teacher, what should you say instead?
We’ll let Strausz tell you himself. He was featured on Thursday’s episode of our new podcast, “The Best Advice Show.”
Most of these podcast episodes are about 2 minutes in length, and offer you a quick listen during a busy day. The advice ranges from broad perspectives on life to very specific ideas -- like eating an orange in the shower, or scheduling times to connect with people.
It’s worth noting, by the way: Strausz’s tip isn’t just about math. It can be applied when you think about learning and teaching in a broader sense, as well. Perhaps it’s best not to qualify anything as “easy.” After all, we don’t know what’s easy for one person or another, and the word is pretty loaded. “Easy” comes with an expectation.
Thank you to Strausz for today’s advice, and to all teachers on this particular Teacher Appreciation Week.
Want to be featured in an upcoming podcast episode? Call us at 844-935-BEST. Leave your name and your advice, followed by your email address in case we have any follow-up questions.
“I’m not particularly interested in platitudes and truisms,” show creator Zak Rosen said. “I’m after specific, odd, uplifting, effective, real tips from you about how you make it through your days.”