Thursday, July 7, 2011

Don't teach to the Tests

For any new teachers out there, here's a few words of advice.

  • Teach your students math. The tests will take care of themselves.
  • Use released test questions in your own tests occasionally. Some of them are quite good.
  • The book is not your enemy. It's not your script either.
  • Remember the way you learned. It seemed to have worked.
  • "Don't smile before Christmas" is stupid.
  • "Don't threaten what you won't enforce." is critical.
and for Christ's sake, don't cheat on the standardized testing. It is so easy to detect and you'll accomplish nothing.


  1. A great set of comments. One caution: most teachers found school/learning easy/interesting, while many students don't find it interesting and/or easy. We need to remember that.

  2. About the book. What you say is true only if the book is any damn good, and mine isn't. (I teach only geometry.)

    I have a collection of geometry texts, some old some new. They've gotten progressively worse over time. The good problems and proofs, the ones that really challenge, have been removed, and what's left is largely simple concept-application together a bit of simple algebra.

    My impression is that upper-level texts, pre-calc and above, have escaped this fate. But the others seem to get only worse.