Coming into grad school, I had little experience communicating mathematics to students who were not already committed to learning the material and minimal background in educational pedagogy. This post is all about how I dealt with one problem this semester.

For the spring term, I led recitation sections for a calculus class designed for students in business or the social sciences. Things I anticipated: derivatives, integrals, students asking why they need to learn this material, and probably a general disinterest in mathematics. Things I did not anticipate: their extremely narrow zone between boredom and anxiety.

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