Describe your feelings and observations about your first experiences of teaching maths – be honest!
Before I started teacher training I was told the journey would be an emotional rollercoaster. Never has a cliché been so true! I don’t think I have yet come out of three lessons in a row feeling happy, although the same can be said for coming out of lessons disappointed. The biggest factor affecting my lessons is the students. I love the lessons when students are engaged and want to learn! But it is a chore to teach the lessons that are a constant battle against behaviour, where the few that want to hear what you have to say are drowned out by a rabble that don’t care anymore. If I had more than two or three of those classes a week, I would leave teaching in a flash.
I want students to see how powerful maths can be and I want them to experience success in maths, but it seems years of boring lessons or repeated failure have resulted in these students dreading the maths classroom, not caring about their work and using the lesson as a social catch up time. I wish I could change these students’ opinions with exciting maths and problem solving, but the older they are, the more their results matter; there is a huge list of topics we have to cover and the time only allows for so much lesson innovation. Combined with the fact that I am already up late most nights and up at 6am just to prepare and deliver lessons that get through the content, as well as filling in all of the paperwork required by the university, there is little time remaining to plan or teach these rich and intriguing lessons.
On the other hand there are classes that I can’t wait to get in and teach! The classes that laugh at a maths joke, race to check their answers against mine, hoping to outdo me- those lessons I love and look forward to! The students hang off every word you say, they are capable of having a debate about which method is better, they get excited when you go off on a tangent to talk about rational and irrational numbers. After these lessons I think teaching is a career I want to stay in forever. And for now, those lessons outweigh the difficult lessons that boil down to keeping a load of teens busy and quiet for an hour and 15 minutes and training them to pass end of topic tests, end of term tests and eventually their GCSEs.
The ups and downs of teaching have been frequent and huge. I never thought I would both love it and detest it three times in one day. Once I have a handle on delivering lessons my next focus will be to try and change the mind-set of students in those classes I dread teaching, so all my students can experience brilliant maths lessons.
By Chloe Hill