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Advice for a trainee maths teacher?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by harderfaster, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. harderfaster

    harderfaster New commenter

    Good morning,

    I will be starting a PGCE course in mathematics next week. Whilst there is an abundance of teacher training advice in the 'student teacher' section, there is little subject-specific advice. What advice would you give to those who are about to start their teacher training?

    Many thanks in advance!
  2. On your placements listen, listen, listen. Take as much as people offer in terms of advice, observation, resources, time, support, friendship and experience. Think twice before offering your opinion or advice, and then think again. (Seriously, teaching looks a lot easier than it actually is).
    Get yourself up and in front of a class as soon as you can, even if it's just taking the register; it gets easier everytime you do it.
    Oh, and find time to daydream - daydream about how you'll teach fractions, how you'll act in front of your class, how you'll organise your classroom, how you will behave when a student confides in you. Browse books, blogs and websites to do with maths education.
    Keep organised. The first filing system you set up won't be the best or last, but it will help you loads.
    Enjoy yourself and make sure you enjoy your life outside of school too.
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Just a couple of things:
    You are there to help the kids with their maths, not show them how good you are with maths. Some teachers tend to forget this detail.
    Don't be afraid to experiment. A teacher might tell you that what you are attempting will go wrong. It may very well go wrong, but it shouldn't stop you from having a go.
    Be yourself. You cannot be something that you are not.
    And have some fun. Teaching is a great deal of fun ( most of the time! ).
  4. DM

    DM New commenter

    On placements, listen carefully to the advice you are given and be seen to act on it.
    Ask for help whenever you need it but show some independence and don't stick to your mentor like a limpet.
    You know all those amazing ideas that are buzzing about in your head that could revolutionise teaching and learning as we know it? Keep them to yourself for now.
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Nah, experimentation is good. It is what my HoD told me on my PGCE.
    Funny thing is, though, that she failed to mention the maths job going at the school at the end of the PGCE.
    But, like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter...
  6. DM

    DM New commenter

    I don't mean experimentation - do plenty of that because this is the only chance you get to mess up and walk away. I am warning against pointing out where everyone else in the Department has been going wrong for their whole careers.
  7. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Oh that is a BIG no no!
  8. IMO - Don't come into the role thinking you're going to revolutionise teaching straight away. You might do in the long term but at the start it's about learning your trade and getting the basics of classroom management and your pedagogy right.
    The point of 'listen listen listen' is a great one - I'd marry that to the idea of 'read, read, read'. There are some great books out there on teaching and some great websites too.
    Whichever school you're at, get stuck in - don't think of it as a placement where whatever happens you'll be gone in six weeks, think of it as a full time job.
    I had two placements - one at a posh grammar school where the parents were footballers, CEOs and lawyers. The other was an inner-city comprehensive where 20% of the students were from, or had parents from the sub-continent. Guess where I learnt the most!
    Show respect too. You'll be working with people who've been in the job for years and seen it all - whilst you should experiment, you should also take on the classic, simple techniques that all good teachers have.
    Don't be worried if it's going wrong. If it is, stop, make a note of your problems and go to talk to your tutors, mentors and colleagues on the course.
    Get your paperwork out of the way straightaway - don't leave it until weekends and holidays as it'll get on top of you. Organisation is crucial.
    Last but not least - the best teachers are the ones that are always wanting to improve.
  9. harderfaster

    harderfaster New commenter

    Thanks a lot guys, that's just what I was after. I've been lurking for some time so will be sure to use many of the resources I've bookmarked from here, so thanks for those too.

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