My first experiences of teaching Maths

Matilda HarperI was extremely keen to get stuck in with teaching at the school and took on my first lesson in the first week of October. It was teaching year 10 set 2 about expected results and relative frequencies. 

Given this was a first lesson my plans were super detailed, with all my key points and questions laid out. Making a PowerPoint from scratch was quite a helpful task for familiarizing myself with the content and examples and the overall lesson structure. Once in the classroom, I found I did not look at my lesson plan once since I was very familiar with it by this point! Having my own slides supported me in keeping the lesson on track and structured as I had planned.

One issue that quickly arose in this lesson was that students did not like to contribute to any class discussion. I’d say perhaps one hand went up all lesson and maybe a couple of called out responses… Student participation is essential for the assessment of learning, so after this experience, I went away and studied the seating plan in great detail. By the next lesson, I was able to cold call on plenty of students and get the responses I was after. This showed me that learning your students’ names is extremely useful before teaching them.

A lot of mathematical terminology is all too familiar to us maths specialists. Most mathematical vocabulary we have heard time and time again so don’t question using them at all. This isn’t the case for our students. A lot of this terminology is new to them, definitions need repeating, and when introduced to a few new definitions they can easily get confused. I ended up having to write out on the whiteboard what each of “expected frequency”, “relative frequency”, “theoretical probability”, and “experimental probability” meant so students had this information all in one place to refer to. This did save me repeating myself countless more times but did use up a fair bit of time. What can be really helpful is having keywords and definitions in books or on slides so students can easily refer without having to ask for help.

While there were a couple of mishaps in my first lesson, I would say the overall experience was very positive—without any major disasters. After the lesson I had a great buzz and felt very accomplished. The hour-long lesson flew by, and it was over before I knew it! Any minor issues gave me targets to improve on. Since that first lesson, I’ve developed secure routines with the class and a great relationship. 

By Matilda Harper


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