What Makes an Effective Mathematics Teacher?

Mathematics is undoubtably an important subject. It builds analytical, creative, deductive, inductive, and problem-solving skills, that can be used in all aspects of life and all careers. No one is born knowing the language and notation of maths; this is gained with the help of teachers combined with increased appreciation and awareness of our environment. Therefore, the need for effective maths teachers is high.
Top 5 skills of effective maths teachers:

Understanding maths and Management skills
These are minimum requirements. A maths teacher does not have to be a brilliant mathematician, but they need to have some clue! Students need to be able to hear and listen so that you can teach.

Clarity of mathematical explanations
You may be an amazing mathematician, but do you give clear explanations allowing that knowledge to be passed on? Can you simplify your modelling and explanations? Can you teach new unfamiliar methods you never used at school?

Differentiation and Ensuring progress for all
Even with schools that set, students are diverse so there are individual requirements. Effective teachers will problem-solve, differentiate, have extension or support work, and ensure maximum progress is achieved for all students. 

Know your students
Are you drawn to your louder students or the ones that ask for help? Do you give time to everyone? How do you use seating plans or setup the class to maximise outcomes? Pace? The best maths teachers know their students – in terms of what they are/aren’t understanding; what their likes/dislikes are (and incorporates this into lessons); knows their sensitivities and needs beyond the maths, and when they need space or attention. An effective maths teacher shows patience, kindness, and builds trust and rapport with students, creating a mathematical learning environment.

Teachers are pressured to get through a large syllabus, and it is easy for maths to become too abstract. The most effective maths teachers ensure students make mathematical links and connections across topics, and in the world.
Classroom teaching has more nuanced challenges than I expected. For instance, I thought it would be straightforward and mostly obvious how to give clear explanations, differentiate, and ensure progress for all, yet it can be very subtle and intricate. When I started teaching, my explanations mimicked my schooling. However, research and pedagogy has made me take a ‘mastery’ approach and focus on reducing misconceptions and using inaccurate language – teaching multiples of 10 multiplication and division without saying you are moving the decimal point for example! I am learning a lot on the PGCE at the University of Oxford and am excited and thankful to continue this journey increasing my effectiveness.

By Verity Thomas
Find Verity on Social Media: verity.dejemelle


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