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Advice from heads of maths please???

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by moontitan, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. moontitan

    moontitan Occasional commenter

    I am currently working out the timetable for next year. I have two teachers in my department who are desperate to teach Further Maths. The trouble is I know they will struggle. The reason is that whilst teaching the single maths A-Level over the two years, they have been rightly been asking for help on some questions from myself or others. However, some of these questions have been very basic. They almost always struggle with proof too.

    I have told them I don't think they are ready but they are pushing for reasons; I am meeting with them tommorow to explain. I am going to write down staff who I know will not have problems.

    I don't want to say to them that the reason for not allocating it to them is due to the help they have needed, a lot of it I am not meant to know about and also it is very much necessary they continue to do that. But it's precisely that and the fact they have not helped with any Gifted and Talented curricular activities from years 7 to 11 + they have no knowledge outside of the curriculum which is why I cannot allocate this to them at this time.

    Should I say this to them, i.e the truth. Also am I being reasonable?
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    You have to prioritise outcomes. Tell them what they need to do over the course of next year to convince you they are ready. If, at this time next year, they can sit unseen past papers for the modules they want to teach and attain at least 95% in reduced time then you will be happy to deploy them! If they can't be bothered then they can't want it that badly. If they find the whole idea offensive and threaten to leave then your problem is also resolved!
  3. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Surely this is a no-brainer? The needs of the students come first! It is very, very clear from what you've said that these teachers aren't up to teaching further maths. Surely you are not so lacking in integrity that you would for a minute consider compromising your students so that a couple of useless teachers can boost their egos and CVs.

    I expect a good maths teacher to be able to do almost any A-level question, in any module on sight. We all slip up occasionally, but this should be the very rare exception.

    As a private tutor, I find it very sad to see how many students come to me from teachers who should not be let near A-level classes. Not just in maths, but also in chemistry and physics: I can't comment on other subjects.
  4. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    You must give the task to the most knowledgeable member of staff. It is students' careers at stake and this must take precedence. On one occasion I was asked to take on the role when no longer H o D, as I had much more experience at the time than a newly appointed department head.
  5. moontitan

    moontitan Occasional commenter

    Exactly my thoughts David, and thanks DM.
  6. swampyjo

    swampyjo New commenter

    You could placate them by putting them on the excellent TFM course. Well worth the money .
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Why wait a year? Let that delay be the response to their possible demur. Qualified maths teachers - that is, first and foremost, mathematically qualified - should have no serious objections in principle.

  8. DM

    DM New commenter

    Moontitan knows they are not ready at the moment and there is nothing to gain by trying to expose their weaknesses. If they want this badly, they will rise to the challenge.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I like your solution, DM, but as they are 'pushing for reasons' then I think they need a salutary lesson in their own subject knowledge in line with the assessment Moontitan has given them, and of their place in the department, sooner rather than later. A gentle but firm push back in return.

    The tests may be delayed by a year if these young bucks - or does as does - demur something sooner, but whatever the outcome the decisions have been made for next year and I see no reason why Moontitan should be pressed in this way.

  10. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you tell them their maths is not good enough, the risk is that they then don't ask for help when they need it. I think you're right to be worried about that.

    The TFM course sounds a good idea, except that if they do that, they may then expect to get a FM group the next year. It's unlikely you could grant that to both of them at the same time in any case. Maybe you could use that as grounds to offer that one of them can do the course, and use sitting a FM paper to decide who gets it!

    Asking them to become involved in G&T activities would be good - you can point out that it gives them a chance to get involved with the future further mathematicians. (It might put them off - I think some people might have second thoughts about FM once they've seen a pupil solve UKMT challenge/olympiad problems far quicker than they can!)

    Why are they so desperate to teach FM? Are there any issues with status or perceived workload? I taught in a department where not everyone taught A-level, and a real effort was made to make sure that workload was balanced, particularly for those with no let-up from lower school.

    If they've only just had their first groups through A-level, can you argue that you'd like to have had more results back on their A-level teaching, and/or you want them to teach any modules they haven't yet taught?
  11. sonofspivak

    sonofspivak New commenter

    I teach in a school where some staff are desperate to teach more A level. I only teach A level - the primary reason for this being that the other staff are inexperienced. However over the last year we have identified several gaps in the subject knowledge of those who want to teach more A level.

    I totally agree with others who say people need to prove themselves. Yes by all means give them the opportunity at Further - once they have proved they can cut it in normal maths.

    Personally I'd use this as the primary reason why they should wait.
  12. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I don't disagree with much from from any of these responses. I do thing, however, that a good head of department would actively encourage the right people to develop in this way. If they show the right sort of potential in their other teaching, and the commitment to roll up their sleeves and get involved in extra-curricular teaching leaning towards G&T at this sort of level, I would be encouraging them on to the excellent TFM course. What I would say is that this is no guarantee of timetabling in future, but I would almost certainly back it up with experience at FM. I've always done this and never let anyone down yet.
  13. You could also suggest they shadow whoever is teaching the further maths course to try to gain some experience that way, timetabling permitting. Its good that they want to teach to teach it but they have to be good enough. Dont think theres any harm on being honest.

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