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Ever felt badly done to when being observed by a non-specialist maths observer?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by nqteacher4490, May 20, 2012.

  1. Twice recently, I have felt undue criticism by senior staff who I felt did not have enough understanding of the subject.
    The first instance was when I taught a group of grade G/F students to add/subtract fractions with mixed denominators (they could not even do same denominator at the beginning and all were doing simple mixed by the end!!) - criticism - insufficient progress - something about a particular step in the working - I could have skipped it and the students would have moved on more quickly - I disagreed!!
    And then, when another senior member of staff questioned whether BIDMAS was achievable in a single lesson and asked would it not be better doing BID in lesson 1 and MAS in lesson 2?
     
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    Ha ha ha.
     
  3. I can see why you feel hard done by.
    Did you laugh in their face at the BIDMAS comment? I wouldn't have been able not to!
     
  4. I was left speechless!! The maths department found it rather amusing!!
     
  5. Whenever I get seen by a specialist I get a 1. Whenever I get seen by a non-specialist I get a 2. Last term I got seen by a non-specialist I managed to get a group of AS students to tell me how to tell from a shape of a graph instantly what sign the second derivative was (it was only the third lesson of differentiation which made it all the more impressive and surpassed what I had put down as the original lesson objectives). Then one of them said 'couldn't we use that to tell whether you've got a minimum or a maximum point without having to draw the graph out?'. It was a beautiful moment which instigated lot of discussion and indicated they had a formed a really solid understanding of the topic, but the observer had no idea.
     
  6. I can feel your frustration from here!! :)
     
  7. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Clearly indicating your lack of planning, Vicky!

    Had you been anything but a barely satisfactory teacher, your plan would have indicated (in one of the appendices to the main plenary chapter) that such an insight might be brought out during plenary discussion with exceptional classes and indicated outstanding understanding.

    You would also, of course, have linked that appendix to the various mini plenaries you would be instigating at various points in the lesson, and listed "second derivative" as a key phrase for literacy in the lesson along with how you had previously assessed the class as being capable of drawing a set of X/Y axes not only without proper graph paper but also without proper drawing instruments (a second appendix in the plenary would have included notes of a potential discussion of the difference between a sketch graph and an accurately drawn one, and links to the appendix of chapter 2 on the use of IT would have included step by step instructions of how to draw the graphs on a Ti-82 calculator).

    Also, in anticipation of the observer's potential lack of subject knowledge, you would have included an appendix for the observer consisting of, at the very least, a set of self-teaching videos and an iPad to play them on explaining the basics of algebra, Cartesian co-ordinate systems, gradients and the history of Newton's work on calculus and the partially parallel work of Leibniz, together with presentations on the reasons for adopting Leibniz's notation in preference to Newton's.

    You clearly were just too lazy to put in proper effort for the benefit of your learners and hence it could be said you are a disgrace to the profession. Fortunately there are now means to remove poor teachers such as yourself from post quickly and we can only hope that your SLT instigate those as soon as possible.
     
  8. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Yes... when a member of SMT judged my lesson as unsatisfactory, because they didn't seem to be doing the task correctly.
    As it turns out, the observer had misunderstood the task, and had no idea how hard the class would be finding it.

    Ironically to some extent, the same member of SMT is now teaching maths and is horrified at how difficult it is and how little the students seem to know.
     
  9. Haha! :)
     
  10. swampyjo

    swampyjo New commenter

    I so agree. I was explaining to our assistant principal the other day that the problem with pupils who only get C or low Bs at GCSE wanting to do A' level was that there Algebra was not anywhere near being up to scratch. She asked, 'can you not teach it to them after the exams?'.... she seemed surprised that we have been trying to teach it to them for 5 years. Another 2 weeks was not going to be much help!
     
  11. We have a head who seems to think that we are not being fair to students when we do not want to enter them for higher papers.
    He insists we are holding them back, not giving them the opportunity to achieve, when all they need is a few lessons on the A and A* stuff and then at least they can have a go. It does not seem to register with him that students who will struggle to reach a grade D on foundation simply cannot do this.
     
  12. jonnymarr

    jonnymarr Occasional commenter

    As a non-specialist, occasional Maths teacher I am fascinated by how much harder it is to jump through the hoops needed for Ofsted in this subject compared to others. ( I see they really are gunning for you lot in the news again today! )
    What's your best answer to the 25min observation + must show all pupils have developed their understanding + differentiation conundrum? Is it impossible? Is it incompatible with what you feel you really ought to be doing with them?
     
  13. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    It's not impossible. Most maths teachers have some lessons filed away to pull out when inspectors come round.
    Yes, that's the real problem.
    Most of us (in my experience) simply don't believe the "Ofsted formula" lesson is actually the right thing to do in maths.
    For most (certainly not all) topics in maths the old-fashioned (i.e. "unsatisfactory") way of showing exemplars, then having the kids repeat the process referring back to the exemplars when they have difficulty actually is the best way to teach (and, more importantly, to learn).
    Marking too is also quite different to many other subjects. In a very clear way, maths is "right" or "wrong". There are no essay answers in maths (at least below university level) where it's possible to have the same question and have different level answers.
     
  14. Every time!!
    But then I was a **** teacher ... never followed an Ofsted-inspired strategy, ignored all SLT demands to change my teaching methods / style etc
    My children did well ..... .... and too many to mention thanked me for it.....
    ..... even the Head but then, he never saw me teach.
     

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