Home > Commentary, Maths, Pedagogy, Teaching > Trying to be a better maths teacher

Trying to be a better maths teacher

Recently the excellent Mark Miller (@GoldfishBowlMM) has written a couple of posts around trying to improve as a teacher. In the first one he spoke about the importance of subject specific pedagogy, and how departments an see excellent results if they give over time to developing together. In the second he wrote about how he’s developed his teaching by striving to become a better English teacher and the subject specific ideas that have helped him.

Ironically, I read the post and saw many links to mathematics teaching and how these ideas can help us all improve in our own subjects! But the idea that focused, subject specific CPD is the future is one I’m totally on board with. I remember as an ITE trainee sitting through a lecture on Bloom’s Taxonomy where all the examples were history and English. I saw the examples and how they might make a difference in those subjects, but I couldn’t see at all how they would relate to maths. It wasn’t until a long time later and a discussion with my NQT mentor that I finally realised.

Subject specific pedagogy

Robin Alexander wrote in 2010 that he feels the key to improving teaching is to get teachers talking about pedagogy, and I’d certainly agree with that. I feel that there is plenty to discuss in general, but that subject specific pedagogy discussion is even more important. So get involved! Get involved online, read blogs, comment, write your own (use WordPress!) and engage with Twitter. There are thousands of maths teachers all over the world waiting to exchange ideas. But also get involved within your department. Share your ideas with your colleagues and ask them what they think, ask how they approach those subjects and try to get the discussions started.

Engage with the subject

I keep my mathematical abilities sharp, I engage with puzzles, I read around my subject and I discussed maths with others. I do these things because I enjoy them, but I feel that they have made me better as a maths teacher.

There are many books you can read, apps and websites you can get involved with and puzzles you can try. They are fun and helpful.

Try things out, within reason

I often try new approaches in lessons, whether it be a new activity I’ve seen or heard about, or another method or a new pedagogical approach. I think when trying these things it’s important to remember that things aren’t always importable. Something that works for me in my setting may not work for you in yours, but it’s worth trying out and then refining if necessary. I’d also say if something fails once, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying again, with a different class.

I put within reason as it can be tempting to try everything, and if you try too much all at once it all gets lost within each other and you can’t pick out the impact for anything you’ve tried.

Mark with a notebook and/or A camera

Whether you’re marking books, homeworks or exam papers, have something with you to make notes with. If there’s a misconception that keeps cropping up, make a note or take a snap. You need to address it in the next lesson. I also like to show examples of great work too.

These are a few of the things I do, on a regular basis, that I feel help me improve. I hope they have given you some ideas. If you have other points to add, please use the comments.

  1. January 19, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

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