What Do You Think Makes An Effective Maths Teacher?

The dominant narrative in our contemporary X Factor psyche days is that it takes only Hal individual will and effort to become what you want to become. Failing means you did not put the required will and effort in it. This idea seems to be implied by the above question. Put differently what it seems to be asking is what does it take a trainee teacher to become an effective maths teacher?

I found a recent issue of TES magazine in the staff room featuring an article about the same question but without a specific subject: what makes an effective teacher. Their argument resonated somewhat what I had in mind: There is not a unique set of skills that makes an effective maths teacher. The editor in presenting the week’s feature commented that as Ronaldo would not be the great footballer that he was without a great team, so was an effective teacher. In his book “Finnish Lessons 2.0” Pasi Sahlberg came up exactly with the same example: Only being the right and good team player as in a good football team would make an effective teacher. 

Sahlberg asked a hypothetical question: what would happen if good teachers of Finland were to be exchanged with Indian or American teachers? His answer was that Finnish teachers placed in India probably would quit the job within five years. Strangely the average retention years of teachers in the UK is the same! Sahlberg also contended that exchanged foreign teachers in Finland would become good and effective teachers in Finland for they would be provided with an ample opportunity of becoming good team players. The TES article made the same point: Despite millions being pumped into personality tests industry it was hard to find the personality type right for an effective teacher.

There are so many resources on the internet including the Maths Scholarship pages about being an effective maths teacher. We, as trainee teachers, receive our daily share of training about how to be effective in the classroom; ranging from effective behaviour management to delivering a good lesson. What is missing in all that is what is missing in my humble opinion from education here: Having good enough time, support, dedication and shared understanding to become effective teachers as good team players with our own set of skills and personality traits.

By Hal Euphrates 

Sahlberg Pasi, Finnish Lessons 2.0, Teachers College Press, New York
TES Magazine, 14 September 2018