What words of encouragement would you give to someone considering being a maths teacher?
The main point to remember is that you are not alone. There are teachers and trainee teachers all over the country and, more importantly, in the schools you visit. In particular, there are other Mathematics teachers, who followed the same path and have a wealth of practical and supportive advice. In the training year, you are part of a cohort of trainee teachers with whom to share experiences. Additionally, you have professional mentors who ensure you are taught and trained; you are not put in front of a class on your first day and expected to teach them!
Mathematics naturally builds on prior knowledge, making scaffolding and differentiation more easily quantified and implemented. If your subject knowledge is strong then lesson planning becomes easier as you know the topics and how they fit in the curriculum. There is an abundance of resources available to strengthen your own knowledge and provide lesson ideas or activities.
I have found that Mathematics teachers are fortunate because many of the activities they set can be marked by the pupils during class. This enables tracking progress throughout a lesson and can identify when further explanation is needed before moving on the next task. Additionally, assessment of understanding can be as simple as a problem solving exercise based on what was taught during the lesson.
The issue of motivating pupils is common and we live in an increasingly technical age when a Mathematics qualification is a necessity for any occupation. Fortunately, there are many examples of Mathematics in daily life and these can be drawn on to demonstrate to pupils the value of what they are learning and how it may benefit them. In particular, many topics - even algebra - can be illustrated with financial examples such as best-buy problems and interest rates.
My main concern before starting training was behaviour management - a concern shared by many of my peers. My advice is not to worry about it. No one will expect you to get it perfect on your first attempt and you will start by observing lessons only. You will see different methods of behaviour management and find the one that suits you. When you begin assisting, you become familiar with the pupils and learn how to mange them before you teach them. I have found that most schools have a behaviour policy and set out the procedure for dealing with behaviour problems for you.
By David Brown