When and where are classes held?
Math Club conducts weekly class sessions, typically on Wednesday morning from 8-9am.
Who teaches the classes?
The classes are taught by our volunteer math coaches. Most of the coaches are parents. None of them are paid for what they do.
However, the coaches are usually not the only adults in the room. For every 10 students (full or partial group) we need 1 parents at all times in the classroom. So we need one room parent (two adults total) for 11-20 students, two room parents (three adults total) for 21-30 students, etc.
Parents who volunteer in the class helps us by monitoring the classroom, noticing kids who need help, assisting with numerous tasks, and generally being a good disciplinary influence. And often parents say that they learn something new too!
Do you mix grade levels in the classes?
We try to have one grade level per class, provided that we have enough coaches to do this. On occasion we will mix grade levels, for example if an upcoming contest will require mixed-grade-level teams
What is a math club class like?
The actual content in a class depends on the grade level, the time of year, the coach’s specific goals, and the students’ level of maturity and development.
Generally, it is a mix of going over prior homework and contest problems, teaching new methods and tricks, conducting in-class contests, working on individual problems in the classroom, practicing for upcoming team contests, and enrichment activities.
Yes, the class is very busy and everyone needs to work cooperatively and efficiently in order to get everything done.
What is expected from my student?
There is a lot that we need to get done. Students need to be respectful and cooperative in the classroom. MP Expectations (Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe) apply; it is assumed that have those three expectations memorized and understood before they begin Math Club. The PTSA Before/After-School Policy also applies.
If the student simply does what the coach tells them to do, and communicates appropriately when they object, virtually all problems are solved or avoided.
At home, students should do the homework. They should give it their best effort and — most importantly — learn from what they got wrong. Without this effort, succeeding in math club is extremely difficult.
We also have high expectations for students when they go offsite to contests. Please see the student contest FAQ for more information.
Basically, it comes down to following rules and directions. Common sense, right?
What are the consequences for misbehaving?
Consequences for misbehavior are typically the following: verbal warnings, seating rearrangement, letter to parents, asking students to stay home for a week or more, referral to principal, dismissal from the club. Whatever it takes to keep a student’s disruptive behavior from damaging the experience for others.
If a student is dismissed from the club for disciplinary reasons, the entry fee is not refundable.
In addition to protecting the students’ experience, we take the coaches’ and volunteers’ experience seriously too. We are not professional teachers or babysitters. We volunteer and work hard alongside the students because we enjoy teaching kids math and enabling their intellectual growth. If disciplining students takes up more than a minuscule amount of time, we take it seriously and will take action. In particularly disruptive situations, coaches may dismiss the entire class for a week, so that everyone can recharge, reflect, and recommit.
Fortunately, extreme measures are rarely needed. Unfortunately, “rarely” does not mean “never.”
Why is there homework?
There is a lot to cover in math club. When students start in 3rd or 4th grade, they are still learning their multiplication tables and have only scratched the surface beyond arithmetic. By the time they reach 6th grade, they are going head-to-head against middle schoolers. As coaches, we have to get them to that point with less than 100 hours of classroom instruction.
There is simply no way to meet our goals and provide a great experience for students without them practicing at home.
We do our best to make the homework interesting, rewarding, and relevant. Coaches welcome your feedback about how the homework is going. The students’ job is to actually do the homework and give their very best effort.
If families are concerned about the amount of work involved we can arrange for you to talk to the coach to get an idea of what he plans to assign and what he expects.
Why is it at 8am instead of after school?
Our Math Club relies on coaches and volunteers who often work during the day. Usually our coaches can only coach before the work day starts. We know it’s early and we appreciate our students’ efforts to get there on time and put in a full hour of attention and work.
Isn’t it boring to do only math for an hour every week?
No! The coaches love math and the students pick up on the coaches’ enthusiasm. There is a lot of hard work involved but the learning also brings a great deal of satisfaction. We do our best to make it interesting and fun.
Can students try the class before committing to it?
The PTSA club policy states that we cannot have non-club students in a PTSA activity, which includes math club class. This is a strict liability issue.
We understand that some students can be nervous about the club and/or the competitions. We cannot guarantee that every student will love math club. What we can tell families is that from our experience we’ve found that students are initially ambivalent but once they attend their first contest they love it and want to sign up for every single competition. Partly because of the math but mostly because of the friends they have and/or make through the club sessions and contests. Then they usually stick with it for the rest of the year.