Collaboration in math is one of the most important parts of a math classroom community. As you start the year are you thinking about how you can promote collaboration in math? Today I have three ways that you can use in your first month back to help students engage in collaboration in math.

Partnerships are a Great First Step for Collaboration in Math

When you begin to teach your students to collaborate start with partners. There are several reasons why partners work best to establish collaboration habits.

Partnerships allow your students to feel a sense of belonging by having just one other person to share their thoughts with. You can create consistent partnerships to create long lasting relationships that can help students create a community. I suggest creating a “turn and talk” partner that students sit by during math. That way, when it is time for partner talk they already know their partner.

Use partnerships to help your students practice their reasoning skills, explaining their solving with evidence, and asking questions. This lower risk group size, urrr.. one, helps students feel more comfortable sharing. Speaking of risk taking, check out this blog post about how to motivate your students take risks in math class!

Routines with partners are key to promote collaboration in math

Establish clear and consistent routines and expectations for students in their partnerships. I am a big fan of turn and talks. Teach your students how to turn their bodies, how to share, listen, and ask questions. Using clear routines for a turn and talk with make them efficient ways to incorporate student talk as well as build collaborative relationships.

collaboration in math

Collaboration in math means being Responsible for each other

When we build a community of math learners part of that must be that we all have a responsibility for each other’s thinking and understanding. When that is a norm in our classrooms then, collaboration just makes sense. The goal is to avoid the mindset of “I don’t want you to steal my answer.” Instead, in math we share our ideas and thinking so that EVERYONE can understand the math. We collaborate so that students build their own understanding and support one another in understanding.

Support to build collaboration in math

What does support look like when building collaboration among your students?

Help your students see that support is part of developing collaboration. We work together to support one another. This reduces the pressure students put on the few students that “know math”. Have you noticed that in your classroom? Students will wait to answer and look to the few people in the classroom that always answer correctly or are perceived to be good at math. When we develop a classroom culture where all students’ thinking is valued, then students start to see that many types of ideas are helpful to support one another. I like to point out to my  students that we learn more from the mistakes or the flawed thinking then we do from the person who can get the answer first or fastest. In fact, I almost always ask the student with the slowest or simplest strategy for solving to share first. I do this to communicate that all thinking and strategies are valid. As we teach our students to collaborate in math class it is essential they know that supporting one another is a key. It is not about correcting each other or helping each other get the answers, but instead it is to listen carefully to understand.

As you start your year…

You’ll likely be doing some beginning of the year activities that build

back to school mathrelationships and help students get to know one another and you, their teacher. I encourage you to use those activities to think about how you can build collaboration. Teach the “turn and talk” while using a Get to Know you Which One Doesn’t Belong. Or build your norms of responsibility and support as you play fact or fib.

I can’t wait to hear about the classroom community of math learmath teacherners you create this year!


Remember, I’m always here to support you, cheer you on, and answer questions. Find me on instagram @Local.Learners or leave a message here!

Looking for more ways to make your math classroom student centered?

Grab my free ebook with 5 steps to a student centered math classroom! You’ll learn ways to empower your students to love & understand math!


student centered math

Some other posts I think you might like…

4 Reasons Mistakes in Math are a Good Thing 

5 Tips to Engage All Learners in Math Discussions

How to Have a Growth Mindset in the Elementary Math Classroom




Leave a Reply