Three Weeks In

I started teaching at a new school 3 weeks ago. Overall, I’m absolutely loving it. My job is more varied than anything I’ve done before and for the first time in my life, I actually look forward to going into work on a Monday.

I’ve been writing the timetable. It has been really interesting to learn how our part time staff prefer to work and try to balance this with providing a balanced week of lessons, alongside management discussions about what proportions staff should work. I’m also excited to lead outdoor education: my climbers seem to be really enjoying our weekly indoor club and I can’t wait to get them out into the mountains proper. It has been great to be involved in discussions about the curriculum: how many periods per week should we give to each subject is not a question I’ve ever considered before.

More mixed has been my work as assessment lead. Inspired by Tom Sherrington, I’ve started with the theme of feedback as actions, sharing some of my own attempts to put this into practice, but I have yet to garner much response from my colleagues. Similarly, initiating the process of collecting pupil data is taking some time.

Despite the fact that I have very few lessons and much more experience in this area, probably the hardest part of my job has been teaching maths! Small class sizes mean that it’s been possible to personalise my teaching more than ever before, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to implement some of the ideas I’ve read about during my nine month break. However, a few issues are challenging me.

1. I’ve never taught mixed-attainment classes before and I’m struggling to find a lot of concrete advice on how to best deal with it.. Do I split the class by task or try to keep them all together? Let the children choose their own tasks or assign them myself? Do I provide extra explicit instruction to some? Should this be within, or in addition to lessons?

This flow chart from @mathsmrgordon has provided some inspiration.

2 . How much to use technology? All my pupils now have a Macbook and iPad. This gives great opportunities, I’ve got them using Desmos, Geogebra and Quizlet, but am I going too far? It’s hard to tell when it’s genuinely educational and when it’s just more fun than pen-on-paper maths. And on that note…

3. I’m following in the footsteps of a teacher who sounds like he was much more fun than me! I’ve heard that he was a great teacher, very inspirational and played lots of games. My insistence on copying down worked examples and setting of written practice and extension tasks sounds pretty boring in comparison. To their credit, the pupils have generally been working very well, but I get a sense that we haven’t fully bonded yet.

Any advice? I’d love to hear it.

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