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Maths teachers who feel uncomfortable teaching higher level maths?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by rustybug, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. I didn't teach anything beyond GCSE for my first few years. But I was working in a department that was very rich in the number of A-Level teachers it had. At my new school they don't give A-Level to NQTs, either.
    One thing, though, is you should mention in an interview that you would like a few years of no A-Level first - otherwise you may find yourself being expected to teach it when you don't feel ready, which would be horrible for you (and probably your first A-Level class!!)
  2. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Most teachers would be delighed to let someone do all the hard work teaching Key stage 3 and lower ability GCSE while they cream off all the higher ability and A Level.
    You should however avoid sixth form colleges and high acheiving schools with large sixth forms.
  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    THere are plenty of schools who would be happy to employ a teacher who didn't teach A-level. However, I suggest that you don't rule it out. After a while, you are likely to find that GCSE becomes easy for you to teach. At that stage, you should consider teaching an AS-level module, which will give you something interesting to do and increase your future options. Until then, don't worry about it.
  4. When I started teaching in 1984, I too was of the opinion that A level was not for me. I was employed in an 11 to 18 school but was happy to let my HOD and ex HOD and then deputy do all the a level teaching and so the situation persisted for about 15 years. My HOD then realised that he was in a bit of a corner regarding A level teaching and asked me if I wanted to do any. I too was a little nevous but he eased me in by timetabling to teach half of (then) P1, the next year I taught all the P1 and P2. My HOD said he should have done this years ago.
    I have since moved on and covet as much A level teaching as I can get. Perhaps I am making up for lost time.
    If you are a good enough teacher then A level should not be too difficult.
  5. I disagree. The number of hours I put into A level classes and top sets outside lessons is far more than I put into my (successful) lower ability GCSE and key stage 3 classes. However, when in the classroom, I work harder in the ks3 and lower ability classes!
  6. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    DO you not agree that with experience the planning of A Level takes no longer than any other lesson?
    Must admit the marking can take longer but it just depends and often can be done in class.
  7. I don't agree, always. I can make up examples on the spot for any topic up to GCSE that will work, come out with nice easy numbers(for lower ability) or factorise, ..., and respond to pupil questions like this.
    When teaching adding fractions, for example, I don't even know what examples I will chose for the kids to do on whiteboards until I assess what they already can do, in the lesson. Other topics do take longer to plan - most geometry topics will need carefully prepared examples and resources, but on the whole less than an A level lesson.

    Even with experience I need to think more carefully with A level lessons. Pure takes less time to plan. If stats resources aren't made in advance they spend all lesson on note taking, and copying examples. If mechanics questions aren't carfully written in advance and distributed, then valuable lesson time is wasted. If a mechanics example question needs a quadratic solving, I make sure that it will factorise - they know how to solve quadratics, I don't want to waste lesson time doing this in an example. Decision requires pre drawn graphs and carefully structured problems which work nicely so that time is spent on concepts rather than computation. All of this takes more time to plan.

    Then there's the marking (definately not done in class!). Then there's the helping of students outside lessons. Then there's references to write. I would enjoy a full timetable of A level classes, but I couldn't commit that amount of time.
  8. A-level is time-consuming to start with, to make sure subject knowledge is up to scratch. But once that is all sorted, A-level is so much easier to plan and teach. I even think it's easier to mark. Yes, examples are hard to come up with sometimes at A-level, but you have a textbook which has relevant examples which can be supplemented, if you wish, with others. Resources are easier to come by because students use their own textbooks with relevant questions in, and again you just supplement nicer activities to break it up a bit, all the while encouraging that more independent style of learning at KS5. Behaviour at Sixth Form is usually easier to manage, and there are usually smaller classes (of course not always the case). Even marking - at KS3 and 4 we are required to write something positive, come up with targets and level/grade in relation to grade descriptors. At A-level, you just mark the actual maths, adding corrections or highlighting where an error has been made which has resulted in the rest of the work going off-track. Yes it takes up more time with Sixth Formers coming to ask for help, but on balance, teaching A-level can be easier.
    However at the start of your career, it really is better to focus on teaching KS3/4 and then build up A-level, maybe starting with one class in your second year and building up to what suits you and the school.
    All that said, I love teaching Year 7 for their enthusiasm and the difference in the way they work and having that variety in your timetable is good.
  9. wlaverty

    wlaverty New commenter

    To The One,

    I would reccommend that you do two Open University courses as soon you can after you finish the PGCE these are MST121 (about A-Level standard) and MS221 introductory university level. These will prepare you to teach A-Level and also give you a great confidence boost .

    Trust me its a about 2 years worth of work but once you teach A-Level successfully you'll wonder why you worried. That said I love the mix of A-level right down to new Year 8 classes in the school.

  10. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Yes, how well students do in later years, and how much they enjoy maths, often depends on them having an enthusiastic and capable teacher in their early years, who enjoys helping young people.

    I knew an emeritus professor who used to regularly give some lessons at a middle school. One of those pupils subsequently achieved silver in the IMO.

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