My first experiences of teaching Maths

James KeableFor context, I am a career changer, who has spent the past ten years running a business in the logistics industry. I am now on a PGCE course and spend three days a week at a school, and two days a week with my Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course. I do have to catch up on the ITT work for the three days I am not present. This for me is not an issue. The three days in school are spent primarily teaching – of which I thoroughly enjoy.

My first experiences of teaching have been very positive. I started off with a few lessons as a Teaching Assistant which I thoroughly enjoyed, and still do, to this day. Helping the students with any mathematical problem or simply watching the higher ability students flourish is extremely rewarding, as the administrative burden of planning and managing a lesson is lifted. 

From here I moved on to teaching starters and the opening five to ten minutes of lessons. As per the above, these proved rewarding. Trying to match it to the school’s Scheme of Work at first was tricky and I probably spent too much time tinkering with something that in effect only opens the lesson. I particularly enjoyed thinking of mini maths tasks or games that the students could undertake at the beginning, that would underpin the actual bulk of the lesson. The skills learnt here were very valuable for the following weeks.
After this, I moved onto the first half of lessons. However, I took the initiative and asked the teacher on the spot if I could simply continue. To my delight, they agreed! This developed into teaching between six to eight lessons a week. 

I am teaching across all age groups at all abilities – top set year 7, bottom set year 10 (which includes several SEND students), middle set year 9 and GCSE resits for year 12. Therefore, every classroom is vastly different, and has its own challenges to overcome. Whether it be year 7s who are so eager to answer questions on rounding and decimal places they jump out of their chairs, to the slightly more disengaged year 9s, who took a good two to three lessons to crack Pythagoras Theorem, or the bottom set year 10s who are successfully discovering areas and perimeters of circles and sectors. All in all, the variation means no lesson or day is the same. However, what does remain constant is the rewarding feeling when a student says “ok, now I get it!”

With mathematics you will get students who are not interested, proclaim that it is impossible, or that it is not relevant. Trying to convert this thought process at this early stage of my career is a difficult test, but a test I want to endure.
The staggered pace, and support from my school really assisted my progress and ensured I was not thrown in at the deep end. I have learnt so much from the feedback I have received and continue to learn with every lesson taught. To top it off, I get to teach the subject I have always loved!

By James Keable