What is Classroom Professor . com?
I will help you to become a better teacher of mathematics – if you teach children from 4 years old to junior high school!
In fact, my aim is to equip you to be the Professor in your own Classroom. I want to give you the tools and the resources to really blow your students’ math classes out of the water!
You’re in the right place if you want to learn more about…
- Grabbing and holding your students’ attention in every math lesson
- Teaching the really tough topics so your student start to love them – even fractions, measurement, geometry, & percentages
- Neat apps and widgets that show students what the symbols of mathematics really mean
- Worksheets designed from the ground up as part of a system to teach key topics, like times tables
- Teaching math with passion and excitement that is contagious
If this sounds like you, enter your email address for free updates (plus a copy of the eBook 10 Minutes a Day: Times Tables Worksheets).
My Story: The Short Version
My name is Peter Price. I teach mathematics for a living, and have become pretty good at it. I have taught in over 25 schools and two universities, and spoken at math conferences on three continents.
- I will tell you what works and what doesn’t in math teaching without varnishing the truth. There is academic, jargonistic, “ivory tower” preaching, and then there is real classroom teaching where kids don’t care a jot what theories you swallowed at uni and just want someone to tell the truth. I prefer the latter – how about you?
- I started teaching before every kid had a calculator in his pocket. There STILL is no shortcut to learning the basics, including times tables. Stick around if you don’t believe me, and I’ll prove it to you.
- I don’t believe in failure, if the teacher is doing the job properly. Few kids will grow up to be Einsteins. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept the lie that math is difficult and just not for some people.
- Your students don’t deserve any less than your best. I know you agree.
- I love math. I’m not a genius, but I just love how it all fits together when you understand it.
- Since starting Classroom Professor in 2010, I’ve found a new way to talk about how to teach math well to a new audience on the web. I look forward to sharing this love with you.
I live in Queensland, Australia, with my gorgeous wife; we met at college in 1976. My three children are all doing exceptionally well in their adult lives, and I love them all to pieces. Still not subscribed? Here you go:
From High School Geek to Math Blogger – My Story
I finished high school before almost anyone I knew owned a calculator. I did have one friend who bought one of the first calculators. He wasn’t allowed to use it in class, and the batteries kept going flat.
I loved math at school, as well as science and all sorts of technology. Just before my last year of high school I went to a Summer Maths School at our state university, where I learned how to program a computer. Now, so you understand, I never saw a monitor or a keyboard, and computer mice weren’t even invented yet. This computer was a mainframe machine, hidden away in some basement. The closest I got to the computer was to punch little pieces of cardboard – “chads” – out of rectangular programming cards. Each card held one line of code up to around 50 characters, and a short program was encoded on a stack of these cards up to 10 cm thick. Each day, our professor would collect all our cards in a big box and take them away to the card reader machine. The next morning, we eagerly awaited our individual printouts, which if we had done our coding properly contained a few lines of printout, such as “What is your name?” / “Peter” / “Welcome, Peter. Today is Thursday”. Wow. I was in geek heaven.
University Drop Out to Student Teacher
I graduated from high school with an impressive university entrance score, and went straight into an honors math and physics degree course. I lasted one year, failing over half my subjects. Our lecturers didn’t bother trying to help us understand their subject (that was the tutor’s job). Lecturers were employed to talk for up to 3 hours at a stretch on their subject, and to fill chalkboards with formulas that I never fully understood. After a year I realised I was quite out of my depth, unable to keep up with this level of math study.
My mother had long suggested that I consider a career in teaching, having seen me loving my time with kids as a Cub Scout leader. I thought I knew better, wanting to spend my time doing mathematics and science.
Then, on 11th November 1975, I suddenly realized what I really wanted to do was to work with children. I immediately applied to start study the next year, and after a few hiccups became a student teacher in 1976.
I noticed another student who had grown up, as I had, in a little English village, and then emigrated to Australia as a child. We were amazed to find that we had lived just 23 km (14 miles) apart in southern England, and had met over 16,000 km away, at teachers’ college in Brisbane, Australia. Trish and I fell in love over the next two years, and married a year after graduating.
Teaching: Learning to Help Others Understand Math
During my first several years of teaching primary/elementary classes I found that lots of kids didn’t understand math. My first reaction was, seriously, “Why not?”. To me, math made perfect sense and even if you couldn’t remember a rule or a formula, you could make sense of what you were being asked, and figure it out. My students often didn’t see it that way, and I realized they needed someone to teach them what I found intuitive.
One of my first school principals said to me “Don’t worry about that stuff you learned at university about ‘teaching for understanding’. Teach kids the rules and the procedures; that’s what they really need.” I was surprised at this statement, but wanting to do the best job I could, I tried to follow his advice.
I found two problems with this approach:
- it took a really long time to teach students to copy the procedures
- unless they had lots of practice in using them, they quickly forgot them again and had to be taught all over again
Yet this approach, I have learned, is used by many teachers who haven’t yet developed a better method.
A Better Way to Learn Math
Over a long time, I developed better ways to help kids understand the math they were learning. This was the core method I came up with:
- Explain each topic carefully, in detail
- Draw lots of pictures to show what the numbers mean
- Ask lots of questions
- Talk to students about what they are learning, check that they understand it correctly
- If possible, find real-world examples where the math is used by real people
- Help kids to internalize the math they are learning, so that even when away from math class it still makes sense
After teaching for over 10 years, I went back to university to study a masters degree, and found this method had a name: constructivism.
Back to University: Researching Math Learning
After 16 years of classroom teaching, I went back to university to study mathematics education in a lot more depth and detail, enrolling in a masters program, followed by a doctorate.
What I found in my studies was this:
What students really understand becomes evident only when the teacher stops showing them what to do at every step,
and then their real math ability becomes obvious. And the results are often not very pretty.
We classroom teachers have tried for too long to train students to use math procedures which our teachers drilled into us, while not attempting to help them to understand what it all means.
The result is yet another generation which hates math, and thinks (with some justification) that it is a waste of time, and they will never use it once they graduate from school.
Classroom Professor: Helping Teachers
My PhD enabled me to get teaching positions at university, teaching future teachers how to teach math. I have enjoyed that life now for over 14 years. But I need a change.
As a university academic, I am busy attending meetings, writing new courses and a million other jobs that take me away from doing what I love best: helping people understand mathematics.
I have realized the power of the internet (better late than never, right?) to reach a much bigger audience. Classroom Professor is my vehicle for reaching out to classroom teachers all over the world, to do what I can to help them solve one of their most pressing challenges: how to teach math so kids “get it” and even love doing it.
If what I’ve said here resonates with you and you’d like to hear more, enter your email address below and I’ll send you regular updates. Oh, and a copy of our flagship eBook, 10 Minutes a Day: Times Tables Worksheets.
Last of all, I’d love to hear your story: how did you become a teacher? Where are you up to in your career, and what are you looking for? Is there any way I can help you with that?