Archives for Math Anxiety

General

Getting a Handle on Academic Anxiety

Do math tutors ever suffer math anxiety?


Sometimes I feel anxious when I'm going to have to tutor a topic that is hard for me. (Yes, even tutors and teachers find certain topics difficult!)

Here's how I cope:


I begin reviewing well in advance. Cramming makes me even more anxious, so I start reviewing early, when the pressure is off.
I use multiple sources. I like watching the videos on Khan Academy because I can just let them roll while I passively absorb some of the material. And I can watch as many times as I want (I "get" more with every viewing). I also read my textbook. Multiple explanations of the same material helps me understand it better.
I go for understanding, not just rote learning. If I can really wrap my brain around this stuff and "own it," I'm going to feel much more confident than if I just learn to plug numbers into some formulas.
I take breaks. This allows the material I just studied to sink in, and it gives me a chance to settle down and let my anxiety level come back to normal.
I deal with my anxiety. When I feel anxiety rising, I stop studying and take some slow, deep breaths. Or I stretch, or take a walk to the mailbox.
I take care of myself. I drink plenty of water, and I eat healthy foods to fuel my brain. Skipping meals can dull thinking and produce headaches, while sugary foods can cause energy spikes and crashes that make anxiety worse.


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Emotions and Feelings

4 Tips to Reduce Final Exam Anxiety

Relax and look forward to summer by getting on top of your exam preparation.

The school year is coming to a close, but high school students first need to make it through final exams.

Try these strategies to get a handle on your anxiety and help exam season go smoothly:

Get started now! Anxiety builds as you worry and do nothing. It may feel very difficult to get started, but you will feel immediate relief once...
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Education

Is Your Student “Pumped Up,” or “Deflated”?

Last week I wrote about the demonstrably positive effects of longer-term studying. Kids who begin studying several days before a test and who study consistently and to the point of mastery get high grades.

This seems like a no-brainer, right? So why don't more kids do it?

One reason is that fear and anxiety hamper people's ability to think straight and organize themselves. (We talk a lot about executive function issues in kids, but these are problems all people of all ages experience)

As part of his 
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Education

5 Tips to Minimize Final Exam Anxiety

Final exams can be stressful, but here are some tips that can help make exam season go smoothly:

Get started now! Anxiety builds as you worry and do nothing. It may feel very difficult to get started, but you will feel immediate relief.
Begin reviewing now. You need not wait until teachers hand out review guides. Get out your old tests and quizzes and begin reworking them. (Don't merely reread the questions and answers; you need to cover up your old answers and actually rework /rewrite each question on paper).
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Emotions and Feelings

Dealing With My Own Math Anxiety

Do math tutors ever suffer math anxiety?

I do, sometimes, when I know I'm going to have to teach a topic that lies at the outer boundary of my own expertise.

So, yes, I am feeling anxious right now, because this afternoon I'm going to have to help a student with some pretty sophisticated trigonometry (including those dreaded "ferris wheel" problems). It's stuff I don't do every day...and it's hard!

Here's how I'm coping:
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Emotions and Feelings

Why Do We Have to Learn This Stuff?

Students ask me this all the time, usually in reference to some especially tedious math lesson.

And for years and years I worked hard to come up with sound explanations for WHY we need algebra, WHY chemistry is important, etc, etc...

Kids would listen and then look dissatisfied.

One day the lightbulb went on for me: I'm answering the wrong question!
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Education

Is SAT Prep Harmful, or Helpful?

Test preparation is big business these days, and I'm part of it.

I've been prepping kids for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, SSAT, ISEE and other tests, for decades now.

Is test prep a plus? Or does it do more harm than good?

In my opinion, it depends on how the preparation is done.

Is the goal merely to achieve a higher score? One common approach is to teach tricks and shortcuts, which supposedly produces higher scores quickly. JenBee wrote about how harmful this sort of coaching was for her:
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Education

Smart Kids and the SAT

I received this thoughtful response from to my last post about standardized tests and your child's self-esteem:
I'm 36 years old and I've been harboring bitterness about the PSAT since I was 17. We took it in 10th grade and I got a really high score. This made me feel like the bar was set pretty high. Well, when I took it again in 11th grade... I bombed.
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Education

The PSAT and Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Your eleventh-grader is about to receive an early holiday "gift": PSAT scores get sent home in early to mid-December.

For most kids, these scores (and other standardized test scores, such as the SSAT, ISEE, SAT, ACT, etc) hit hard, whether they're bad or good! And it's important to give kids the perspective and support they need to turn their results into personal empowerment, and not discouragement.
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