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The Impact of Teacher Language on Math Engagement

A math classroom has the potential to be a magical place, where teachers are positioned to empower students as leaders, learners, and problem solvers. Unfortunately, this is not the experience for many students. As a middle and high school teacher, I have encountered far too many students who are convinced and openly express that they are not a “math person.” I question, What can we do as educators to change the experience for learners, and begin the work to undo the negative mindset that has developed over time?

Consider the impact a teacher’s words have on student experiences and in influencing the beliefs that they have about themselves. Can you recall a moment from your experience as a student where a teacher’s words had a lasting impact? I think we all can. These pivotal moments, whether positive or negative, are often brief verbal interactions, yet the impact goes much deeper.

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