What Makes an Effective Maths Teacher?

Joanna John-BaptisteI believe there are many qualities to an effective Maths teacher:

1. They are authentically passionate about their subject and enjoy sharing that with others.

2. They practice and constantly strengthen their subject knowledge and awareness of Maths Education research. 

3. They can successfully teach all ages and abilities, adapting themselves to the needs of the students in front of them. 

4. They reflect on the lessons they teach and ask themselves constantly how they can improve.

5. They look out for Maths anxiety and find ways to develop and nurture confidence and motivation in their classroom.

However ultimately, effective Maths teaching is what makes an effective Maths teacher as it will enable students of all ages and abilities to learn and make progress in their lessons. 

Effective Maths teaching when planning lessons:

When planning to teach a new topic, an effective Maths teacher will dissect that topic, thinking about and breaking it down into its parts in order to identify what prerequisite knowledge should be understood and automatized first. They will furthermore acknowledge that they think about Maths as an expert and therefore consciously seek to realise and understand how a novice might view that topic in order to pre-empt potential misconceptions.

When planning a lesson they will ask themselves, “what will my students be thinking?” at every moment of the lesson. This will help them plan what questions to ask students and predict what might be asked by students.

Effective Maths teaching in the classroom:

When introducing a new topic, an effective Maths teacher will assess the prerequisites and address any misconceptions in the fundamentals before introducing the new topic. They will then connect and build new knowledge with the reviewed existing knowledge. 

Whilst teaching a class, they are continually collecting feedback throughout the lesson by use of effective questioning, wandering and looking at student work, reading facial expressions/ body language and marking classwork as they go along. They use this information to inform them on how well the students are understanding and then respond accordingly.

They have a range of routines for the classroom (from the way students come in, to how to they answer questions, and how they collect books in) in order to manage behaviour and productivity, setting an atmosphere of high expectation and hard work from the outset.

And finally, effective teaching involves setting homework for the purpose of practice and consolidation of what has been covered (“practice makes permanent”). 

By Joanna John-Baptiste