My First Experience Teaching A Mathematics Lesson  

During my final undergraduate year at UCLan, I was offered the incredible opportunity to undertake a placement at a high school through the undergraduate ambassador’s scheme (UAS). The UAS allowed me to gain invaluable skills and provided me the gateway to work in a professional educational environment and experience multiple days in the life of a teacher. It also allowed me to explore whether teaching was a path I wished to pursue and also understand the issues surrounding education today. Through the use of the logbooks, I was able to journal my experience and critically evaluate my progress. The special project I complete gave me an insight and developed my understanding of the national curriculum and allowed me to teach my first ever maths lessons. 

I noticed that the pupils were very disengaged from the starters as they were very repetitive and had no element within it that spurred their enthusiasm. Consequently, this had a knock-on effect on the remainder of the lesson as early motivation was not always achieved. I also noticed the detrimental effects Covid-19 had on the educational system and these effects were very prominent in each lesson. As a result of online learning, the pupils’ fundamental foundation was very weak thereby causing interruption. The Schemes Of Work (SOW) specified was not being followed as topics needed constant revisiting.

This motivated my special project: an extended starter which incorporated lockdown topics, specifically topic 1 as this formed the basis of the syllabus. A way to achieve this was to shift the pupils’ knowledge from their short-term memory into their long-term memory.

Antero Garcia, who studied how gaming shaped learning, says games are “a pedagogical approach that might help people think differently about what’s possible.” Therefore, my project was mapped through the technique medium of a game called ‘Mathketball’ to increase pupil participation and translate it into improving their learning and memory as “there is no learning without memory and no memory without learning” (Dehn, 2010).

I executed my special project with Year 10 set 3. I divided the pupils into 5 groups of 4 so that each group varied of pupils with differing abilities. The pupils worked as a team to answer a series of questions. I set a time limit of 1-2 minutes per question depending on the complexity of the question. At the end of the timer, the pupils wrote their answer on their whiteboards. If answered correctly, they received a point. They were then given the opportunity to shoot a scrunched-up paper, which was arranged to resemble a basketball, into the bin. The group received 1-3 points depending on their chosen shooting range.

To ensure that every pupil was learning, the rules were set to work independently on the question first, then collate and discuss their answers as a team to formulate one answer. After each round, I explained the answer so that any misunderstandings were cleared. I also allowed the pupils to explain the solution to instigate peer learning. At the end of each round, I asked the pupils to give me a thumbs up, thumbs to the side or thumbs down, depending on how they felt about answering the question, to allow me to measure their understanding. 

The questions chosen varied each week depending on the theme of the week. Each week, I repeated one question from the previous weeks’ topic as a bonus question with extra points to gain so that rehearsal of the topics was occurring over spaced intervals – my main goal for the project.

To maintain enthusiasm and concentration, I drew up a leader board and updated it weekly and announced that the team with the highest points at the end of the season would receive a prize. I also introduced the famous and legendary basketball player, Michael Jordan, in the lesson too and told the pupils how Mr Jordan actually went onto study Maths and how I truly believed his mathematical skills contributed to his profound success in basketball. 

Thinking back at this experience, I will never forget how nervous I was to put this game into practice. Maths lessons are not universally known for being fun so it was really important for me to introduce the ‘cool’ element to maths to which I believe I succeeded in doing as the feedback I received at the end from the pupils were; and I quote “Miss I never used to enjoy Maths lessons and hated coming in on Mondays, but ever since you’ve come, I’ve loved coming in every Monday so that I can sit in Maths.” Despite this not being my main goal for the project, I felt a huge sense of fulfilment from these comments.  

By Fatima Bax  


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