A target for the next half term

Will SawtellIn my first half term, I have already learnt so much about teaching maths. From structuring my lessons so that students avoid cognitive overload and feel secure, to keeping the pace brisk and snappy, to finding all sorts of creative models to explain topics- this initial period has taught me a lot. Helping students to understand where they are on their individual learning journey has been particularly interesting, for example with 'knowledge organisers'. When I was at school I often had no clue what topic was coming next: now I can see a lot of care and attention is dedicated to guiding students through the cosmos of maths in a logical sequence. It is very rewarding to see students benefit from understanding this; seeing that the skills from this lesson will prove useful in future weeks, topics and years.

Even with all I've learnt so far, I must still be only a small fraction of the way along my journey to becoming an inspirational maths teacher. The knowledge I have gained over the past half term has aided me in making some targets for myself, to help along this journey. I won’t share them all- I hope sharing just one could be useful for both current and future trainees! 

Effective praise is the most important part of teaching that I didn’t understand when I started just two months ago. Expressing the feeling that we get when we are praised for something that we consider valuable is difficult in words, but despite understanding this I have been guilty of not praising my students effectively enough for their effort and achievement. Phone calls home, emails, postcards, achievement points, commendations, whatever other mechanisms your school may have in place: these all carry tremendous value for both students and their families. I am now beginning to understand the significance of having a great relationship with the whole support network around every student. I hope that, in future, praising students more effectively will help to bolster these relationships and aid both my lessons and the subject of maths as a whole to become more valuable and inspirational to my students. 

In summary, positive and powerful relationships between teachers, students and their families are an integral part of effectively transmitting the beauty and power of maths: this is a side of teaching that I didn’t completely understand before. I hope that using this, alongside my passion and love for the subject (which students are still bemused about- I will get them to understand one day!) will help my journey to becoming an inspirational maths teacher and has also given you an insight into the journey this year.

By Will Sawtell