Despite what many educational companies may tout, teaching methodology can’t be a one-size-fits-all matter. Nor is it something that can be planned for a student once and repeated indefinitely.
What really skilled teachers know, and what good tutoring and after-school programs utilize, is the idea that every teacher-student relationship is unique, and it takes continual fine-tuning and communication to make it work.
Our methodology here at the Online Math Center relies heavily on such customization and responsiveness to ensure that each and every student is given the tools and guidance they need to not only succeed in but also enjoy mathematics. Here are the main points that not only serve as the foundation of our approach but have shown success time after time in our courses.
Careful and Regular Diagnostic Testing
An initial diagnostic test is a crucial part of any learning strategy. Ours is aimed at establishing an understanding of a student’s strengths and weaknesses, but this does more than just help plan curriculum. It works both ways, in fact, also providing students with a clear sense of their own abilities. This allows them to approach ensuing work and classroom participation from a fresh, neutral place.
Importantly though, diagnostic testing isn’t done just once, but at various times throughout a given teaching period to ensure that both students and teachers know exactly where they need to focus their efforts. We’ll come back to this theme of customization and evolving strategy in a bit.
Active Learning Strategies
If a student struggles with standard textbook and workbook learning, there’s usually not much achieved by simply switching to different books. Especially in younger learners, or those of any age who have struggled with passive learning, the key is to increase engagement and focus with the material.
The best way to do this is through well-constructed games and other activities that put students in the driver’s seat as they make their way through different strategies, ideas, and operations.
Gamification of learning is an increasingly hot topic in educational circles, but OMC has honed our strategy to find the best way to punctuate learning sessions with a slew of different puzzles and other interactive supplements that keep students engaged without totally breaking away from mathematics. This way, when it comes to really digging in and focusing on challenging exercises and homework, students will have a fresh and renewed focus.
Active learning extends beyond simply incorporating well-timed games and puzzles though. At the core of the OMC methodology is teaching students to speak up, be assertive, and participate in their learning.
For socially anxious students this may seem daunting at first, but thanks to OMC’s small class sizes and expertly trained tutors, they quickly become comfortable discussing their day’s material with teachers and fellow students alike, encouraging a sense of learning within a community or cooperative learning environment. And when everyone’s actively engaged everyone benefits.
Truly Adaptive and Customizable Learning
In addition to responding and adapting to students’ specific needs and their inevitable need to change gears in learning style, OMC’s methodology features a massive variety of opportunities for students to seek out new challenges. Not only are our courses offered in a range of difficulties, but students can also switch between group learning and 1-on-1 sessions to further address problem areas.
This adaptability is crucial not just for students who have trouble with math though, it’s also incredibly helpful for gifted students seeking further or more advanced training for math competitions. While group environments are great for competitive students, highly motivated students often have unique struggles with their weaker points, and it’s precisely on this point that OMC can help them change environments and strategies quickly and effectively to overcome what’s holding them back.
Small Class Sizes, Guaranteed
Many tutoring and math education companies will tout small class sizes, but OMC’s student-teacher ratio never exceeds 5:1. This affords both students the opportunity to be fully present and not slink into the background during lessons, and to feel encouraged to participate in a calm environment (rather than one that’s overfull and chaotic). This is especially unique in a post-COVID world in which more and more educational resources are offered online.
Many if not most online educational services are offered to scores of students at a time, creating the ever-increasing sense of “meeting room invisibility;” that is, seeing themselves as just one of dozens of tiny tiles on a screen, rather than an active participant in a class. By keeping our ratios supremely low, we make sure each student feels important and seen, enhancing the sense of community and cooperation we’ve mentioned throughout this article.
A supportive and inviting learning environment is just as important as the material being covered since, without the right surroundings, students will inevitably struggle to stay engaged.