There is no universal principle that will easily help students get better at mathematics. There are, however, some principles that will help most students.
1 – Confidence: if students don’t think they can learn a subject, they won’t even try. You need to show them that the task is manageable, and one way to do so is by highlighting how a new subject is similar to a topic they already mastered.
2 – Understanding: help students understand the reason behind formulas and concepts, rather than just memorize them. That takes more work in the short-term, but boosts performance in the long-term.
3 – Assessment: help students find out any flaws they may have in their foundation. Often students struggle with math because they don’t understand topics they were taught in previous grades. The sooner you help them realize that, the easier it is for those students to work on the problem.
Of course, it’s hard to apply all three principles when you are working with a class of 40 students. That’s why transformative solutions like the ones offered by Teach to One are so important.