There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve hit a wall. For some students I’ve worked with, learning math felt even more challenging because they were hitting a wall with every lesson plan! Just like any other obstacle, you can’t just drive through it—you’ll need strategies, and resources, that can help you find a way around. So if you or your student are feeling stuck, don’t worry! Mr. D’s list of Ways Around the Wall is here for you.
This might seem counterproductive—since when has moving backward helped us move forward?—but moving backward in the lesson plan can help to identify any missing knowledge. Review foundational principles, and goals for that section of the textbook. Look in the chapter before, or two chapters before, to be sure you’ve gotten a grasp on the work that came before this new lesson plan. If you need to spend time reviewing something from a past lesson plan, dedicate time to do so. Your future self will thank you for establishing the foundational knowledge before moving forward.
Find a different route.
This can look like a lot of things! Sometimes with math, we stumble over words and how explanations are phrased. Sometimes we stumble over new concepts, or because examples aren’t clear. And sometimes we get stuck because there’s too much new information at once. So some different routes might look like:
- Finding more information than just the text. If it doesn’t make sense, find more text! Find better text! Start with the textbook itself; most will include a glossary of terms, and some may have additional information at the beginning or end of a unit about the individual lesson plans. Feel free to Google until you’ve looked at every search result. Part of the learning process is finding the information you need, so chase down every resource that feels like it helps until you’ve mustered enough information on the topic.
- Rephrasing the text. Try putting examples into your own words. Try writing down what the new concept means to you, or what you think it could mean. You can also try different reading strategies with the text, or even reading the paragraphs in reverse order. The goal is to make the text more accessible by customizing it to the way you like to take in new information.
- Separating the text. Sometimes, a textbook might throw a lot of key words together in just a few paragraphs, or introduce more than one concept at the same time. This can confuse even the math whizzes among us! Start by making a list of all the key words you see, and finding definitions of each term that make sense to you. Make sure that you understand what each means individually, before you go back to the text where they are being used together.
Get help climbing the wall.
When students learn to gather more resources to help them learn, they’re learning more than just the content of the lesson plan. There are moments when all of us need to ask for help! Students can find resources all around them: in libraries, in study groups, in peers who have completed that coursework already, in mentors, in teachers, and online. All of these resources can help a student have a breakthrough in viewing content in a new way, or seeing an example in a new light.
Make sure your learning style isn’t part of the barrier.
Everybody learns in a way that is unique to them, so if you feel like you’ve hit a wall, maybe it’s not the content—maybe it’s the way it’s being presented. So think through how your student is most often successful: do they learn best when talking it out with someone? Do they learn best when they have more information to read and review? Do they learn best when they can collaborate with a peer or partner?
Give it time.
Students can feel frustrated, especially with new concepts, when they don’t intuitively understand or get it right away. Remember that learning is a process! And it’s important to be patient as you build on prior knowledge.
If your classes aren’t working for you, your parents, your schedule, it might be time to look at different class options! We have SAT & ACT Bootcamps that will help raise your test score and give you access to our portal of study tips! Self-paced classes are also an option that will give you the flexibility to finish the coursework on your time. I take into account all the different learning styles that students have, because that’s what is best for them! Check out all of our class options here and pick what is best for you!