2. Textbooks shift teachers’ mindsets and remove the stress of making mistakes in the classroom
Teachers encourage their class to see mistakes as rich learning opportunities, but so often they don’t extend themselves the same courtesy.
Interestingly, the study pointed out that one benefit of teaching with Maths — No Problem! was that teachers began to shift their mindset alongside their learners, especially when it came to mistake-making.
By encouraging a growth mindset
The positives of making mistakes can be found in the work of Carol Dweck. According to her, children who have a ‘growth mindset’ see that intelligence isn’t fixed — it’s built through hard work, deep focus and, most importantly, resilience.
But do teachers maintain a growth mindset in their own practice? In the study, teachers reported that their attitudes towards mistakes and struggling had changed.
“In some ways the attitude [towards] struggle and mistakes goes beyond the children’s activity and attitudes and influences [to] the next layer up of the teacher’s practice. This allows the teacher to model being a learner at the level of Maths problems but also at the level of teaching Maths.”
By taking a collaborative approach to problem solving
Textbooks ease the stress of always having to be right. This could be especially useful for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) or teachers who are new to the maths mastery approach. In the study, one primary teacher said:
“I’m far happier to be the person making mistakes at the front or not getting things right and I’m less frightened about mistakes in the lesson. It doesn’t worry me now if things aren’t going the right way. They’re not going the right way and we use that within the lesson… Talk to each other. Why isn’t this going in the right way? Why can’t we get this? What’s not right here?”
Rather than call out or label mistakes as needing pedagogical intervention, teachers involve the whole class to work collaboratively. They ask questions and help the class come to a consensus.
Key takeaway: Teachers who use a textbook programme like Maths — No Problem! worry less about being the person with the ‘right’ answer. Seeing their teacher struggle gives children reassurance that everyone makes mistakes, and that it doesn’t say anything about a person’s intelligence.