More about Me and My Blog

I am a qualified secondary school maths teacher, and have taught maths to children from year 7 (age 11) to year 13 (age 17) in a few different secondary schools. I thoroughly enjoyed my PGCE year. Nobody who has done a PGCE can deny that it is tough, but I really enjoyed relearning maths from the point of view of teaching. I had never struggled with maths myself, and didn't realise the depth of difficulty and misconceptions that students can experience. I became passionate about helping students to enjoy maths and really understand it. I wanted to encourage students to engage and see the beauty of maths.

However, like many teachers, it did not take me long to realise that teaching wasn't going to be exactly what I expected. Too much of my time was spent jumping through hoops, doing things that were of no benefit to the students learning. I was expected to spoon feed the exam classes so that they could pass an exam, but didn't necessarily have any understanding of the mathematical content we were covering. All the reports, meetings and marking meant that I was left with very little time for the most important part - the planning (and teaching). I found myself teaching lessons that I was certainly not proud of - I had to rigidly stick to the scheme of work and didn't have the flexibility or time to help the students develop a deep and fundamental understanding of mathematics. There were too many students in my classes for me to make sure that every student had the teaching and tasks most suited to their style of learning and to their prior understanding. I could go on, but all in all I was not doing what I had trained for, I was stressed, over-worked, unable to help the students in the way I wanted and I had no time left over for my own young children.

I decided to leave the secondary school environment and now teach maths to engineering apprentices. However, I still have my passion for helping kids to really understand maths. Through teaching, I realised that by secondary school age, for many students it was "too late". They had already decided that they hated and "couldn't do maths". Trying to convince these students otherwise was almost impossible and so much time was spent undoing negative feelings and misconceptions that they had built up. I now have much more time (I leave my work at work) and I spend some of it researching how to help children to really understand maths from the beginning.

Purpose of my blog

This blog is designed to explain mathematical concepts (that can sometimes seem obscure) and provide ideas for tasks and activities that can be carried out at school and at home to help kids gain a deep and fundamental understanding of the subject. I want to help teachers, students and parents understand why certain mathematical concepts are vitally important, and where the knowledge can lead. I want to bring the passion back into teaching and learning maths, helping those who have become disaffected by the rigidity of schemes of work, and the hoops that have to be jumped through for exams. I have nothing but the greatest respect for school teachers and their hard work that I know they put in to inspire and engage children in such a (poorly) politically run school system.

I know that I have never taught in a primary school, but teaching secondary school kids has made me aware of the misconceptions and lack of understanding that kids have. These misconceptions are normally built upon lack of understanding of basic, fundamental mathematical concepts, such as place value. I believe that helping kids investigate and discover mathematical facts and ideas for themselves helps to enhance and embed deep understanding. The national curriculum requires students to learn so many different facts and topics that it can be easy to rush through ideas, teaching rote methods and not allowing students time to discover true knowledge.

The tasks in my blog posts are mostly tasks that I have found in books and on websites, along with some of my own. They are designed to really help students to understand the mathematical concepts. They encourage students to link their new found knowledge to other areas of maths and to develop problem solving skills. These are important skills to learn. I believe that school maths can be very compartmentalised, and I have found many students who are more than capable in one topic, but are then unable to apply the same mathematical concept when studying a different topic.

Kiducation

My blog is part of Kiducation which offers online education solutions. We provide free videos and resources to help learners, parents and teachers. We have two YouTube channels, Kiducation UK and OxMath. Kiducation UK has many videos based on the mathematical ideas and tasks in my blogs. The videos star a five year old child in year 1and the learning is child led, and includes misconceptions along the way. The YouTube channel also contains videos on other subjects that young children are expected to learn. They contain fun ideas for parents to help their kids learn at home, as well as ideas that can be used in classrooms.


        

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Learning to Tell the Time

Introduction to Measuring Length

Measuring Length - the importance of units