Taking Risks is Encouraged and Rewarded:
The traditional model in math classes where teachers begin the class by reviewing the homework from the previous night, then they provide a lecture on a new topic and some sample problems, then they have students work on problems 1-50 in a textbook is no longer a viable option. Students are right – math class can be boring if teachers don’t have knowledge of best practices and employ varied engagement strategies to keep their students curious about new topics. Students have innate curiosity that is often stifled when teachers immediately provide the formula or the algorithm that will produce a correct answer. Students need a safe place to explore their thinking and try out multiple ways to solve a problem.
The Focused Instructional Model allows students to take risks and be innovative when attempting to solve problems. Students see sample problems that they might not know how to solve; the FIM gives them space to be creative in their problem solving. The daily warm-ups include an “effort” box for students to explore their thinking without worrying about getting the problem right or wrong. Outside of FIM, from an early age, student papers are marked with red ink which leads to increased frustration and an aversion to mathematics in general. Within FIM, in the effort box, students can try new strategies while teachers celebrate and reward their innovative thinking. Providing a safe learning environment where students feel comfortable taking risks leads to developing creative thinkers that will be the leaders of the future.