10 Weeks In – Varying Up Your Methods Of Explanation

Will Metcalf I am now 10 weeks into my teacher training with the Fylde SCITT, whilst also studying for my PGCE with Leeds Beckett University. I love it. Teaching is a profession which you live every second of everyday. I go to bed excited to wake up and teach my lessons to my students; and then wake up with a new lesson idea – even my dreams are now feeding into my teaching! 

The first 10 weeks have flown by. Being a trainee means planning takes a long time, as you are constantly building up your bank of resources and lessons, but this also means you have a clean slate to try out new ideas, develop your own individual style and observe different teachers and the techniques and methods which they use. My biggest focus to this point has been to make full use of concrete, pictorial and abstract methods of explanation in my lessons. In the first few weeks of training, I made the mistake of using abstract maths too quickly. I was focusing on proving rather than teaching understanding and putting the scaffolding up so that students can develop a ‘feel for maths’. 

The turning point for me was a CPD event about ‘bridging the gap between KS2 and KS3’. We talked about using cuisenaire rods to develop understanding with sequences, ratios and proportion. We also talked about using different shapes and bar models to teach multiplying and dividing fractions. This session led me to completely re-plan my upcoming year 8 lesson on this topic. The first lesson was entirely image and object focused, using plastic cubes, bar models, cuisenaire rods and a variety of fractional images (not just slices of pizza and cake!). This lay a really good foundation for later lessons when we brought in the more abstract maths. It has also meant that my students don’t use quick rules and cheats – KFC (Keep, Flip, Change) is banned in my classroom!

I chose the Fylde SCITT to train because I wanted to remain local as well as to build up relationships in an area where I want to teach. I am passionate about combatting the educational issues in the Blackpool and Fylde region and feel very proud to be starting my teaching career here. Our first week was together as a course group (21 of us), and since then I’ve been in schools every week Monday-Thursday. I love the school which I am currently placed and the support which I receive within my department is phenomenal. I have recently accepted a job at this school for September 2020 and I am now focusing on using every second of this year to become an outstanding teacher come September. The Maths Scholarship Scheme has been brilliant for trying to bring cross-curricular links into my lesson to ensure all students are engaged, transferring my passion of maths onto them, as well as widening my exposure to other maths teachers so that we can share ideas and experiences.

By Will Metcalf