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What makes a good maths teacher and is there a shortage?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by something_more_original, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. something_more_original

    something_more_original New commenter

    I'm trying to get the courage up to appy for a PGCE course (as a mature student not far off 40). I already have a degree in maths, but discovered after doing an OU course in the history of maths that I was very rusty. So, I enrolled for two more OU maths courses (level 1 and 2) and have a grade average on the level 1 course of about 97% and about 95% on the level 2. Clearly I am getting rid of the rustyness.
    However, I'm still getting the heebeegeebees about applying. I won't have had any recent school experience, and I can't really get it as I have a 7 week old baby. My most recent school experience was as a volunteer in 1995. Then I was a volunteer tutor in 1997-98. That's it, apart from helping neighbours with kid's homework occasionally.
    If I make this move, I want to be a good teacher. What makes a good maths teacher? Enthusiasm? Ability? Lots of things?
    Finally, is there actually a shortage of maths teachers? Thinking it would not be wise to give up my job if there are no jobs available.
  2. I am in the same boat, and am due to start a pgce in 2011 after a maths enhancement course. As to shortage of jobs it depends where abouts you are and what time of year you look. Generally though schools are desperate for decent maths teachers (like the good folks on here!) Have you spent any time in school shadowing teachers?
  3. DM

    DM New commenter

    There are hundreds of schools that do not have fully staffed mathematics departments if that answers your question.
  4. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I'd go with the lots of things and my list of criteria change depending on what I have dealt with recently. Today's list includes:
    <ol>[*]Ability to develop relationships with the students.[*]Commitment to following up issues relating to learning & behaviour.[*]Enthusiasm about the subject.[*]Creativity.[*]Commitment to coming up with interesting & varied lessons.[*]Ability to reflect & improve.</ol>I might have more to add depending on how tomorrow goes!
  5. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    DM, you've passed on useful comments previously and I understand that what you say is, technically, true, however I don't see how this actually works out in practise.
    Look at it this way; say a selection of schools advertise for maths teachers in the TES etc. If they don't obtain candiates as competent as they want ( no offence to anybody ) but they need someone to take the place they will have to offer the job to someone and that place is filled and until someone in the school leaves there won't be another opportunity for anyone to join the maths dept.
    Later, along come a new group of NQT maths teachers, some with a 'real' maths background and are just what the school WOULD have wanted, but they can't appoint them since the budget won't stretch to another maths teacher.
    Surely, therefore, unless there is more cash in the kitty those 'quality' candidates won't be able to secure a maths position, since 'their' vacancies will have already been taken.
    I realise I might be shooting myself in the foot here, since this what I will be going through in a few years time, but a trawl through the TES website for the counties adjacent to where I live has not shown any repeated adverts for quite a while.
    I might be entirely mis-reading the situation and the process but surely maintained schools can't just add on the cost of an extra teacher if one were to contact them on an exploratory basis.
    I'm happy (and hoping) to be wrong, but in the current financial climate it would appear that 'any' maths teacher would have to do since the school couldn't wait for the 'right' maths teacher to appear.
    Thoughts anyone?
  6. Usually temp or supply ... still having a place to fill
    MathMan1 likes this.
  7. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Ah, 'that' way - too obvious and I'd missed it! ( Pours cold water over head )
    I suppose that means the maths dept benefits from a maths teacher with tons of experience but who is too dear ( ie, too far up the scale to fit into the school budget ) whilst they hold out in hope for a NQT that can teach maths to the standard the school wants at the price it can afford.
    Does this go on a lot?
    If so, would the school continue to place an advert for a teacher, since each time there's a cost, or should NQT's track adverts prior to completing their NQT and then send out to any of those schools to ascertain whether they are using a temp or supply teacher whilst waiting for the right permanent to turn up?
  8. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    We have had this thread or the likes of it several times recently.

    I you are a half decent maths teacher AND prepared to work in a "bog standard comp" for a salary that is commenserate with your skills and experience then you will get a job no problems what so ever.

    If you restrict youlself to a very small area or a particular type of school then you are not going to find it that easy.
  9. Not usually the issue in my experience ... usually just a case of someone wanting temp or wanting supply or being an unqualified teacher
  10. DM

    DM New commenter

    A school advertises for a mathematics teacher but receives no applications. They advertise unsuccessfully for a second time. They then attempt to engage the services of a mathematics supply teacher but these are rarer than hen's teeth. They then either a) deploy a qualified teacher of another subject to teach mathematics b) employ an unqualified instructor (often a cover supervisor or a learning support assistant).
    MathMan1 likes this.
  11. something_more_original

    something_more_original New commenter

    OK, er thanks. There seem to be alot of schools advertising here (London) from time to time.
    What I'm really interested in is being a good maths teacher. I had a dire teacher in secondary school, and it wasn't until I went to sixth form and a teacher there convinced me to do A-level that I became interested. I want to not only make the subject interesting, but give students confidence. I really did lack in confidence with maths and was surprised to pass the GCSE. I don't want to be that bad teacher, but wonder how people keep it fresh.
    I'm not looking for things to put on an application form or the right thing to say in an interview, but things that I either have, or could develop over time.
    So, good maths teachers - what makes you good?

  12. I am 36 and I have just completed my PGCE. I loved every single minute of the course and i can't wait to start for real in September. From what I have seen so far, the most inspirational teachers are the teachers who care about the children, who want to do the best they can for all the pupils they come into contact with, are able to jump through hoops yet stay focused on their own beliefs.

    I suspect by actually asking the question, you will be absolutely fine!

    Do it and enjoy it!
  13. I have posted many times about the lack of teachers in my twins school, a specialist maths college. One of the boys is in the lowest set yr 8 currently working at level 3b, Since September his class has had, I think, about 7 different supply teachers. The 'main' teacher that teaches for part of the week is a business studies teacher. The class have had a music teacher, P.E. teacher and occasionally an HLTA..
    I had noticed that nothing had been written in his exercise book for 2 weeks and when asked what he was working on he replied, Filling in sheets asking what level we are working at and looking up maths games on the computer. The sheets I had mentioned before. Tells the pupils what they are supposed to know from level 1-5. The class were told to tick all of the boxes in level1-2 as they should know them even though it is obvious that some parts are not known, which is why they are all working at level 3/4!
  14. Charmed, in advance of me completing my PGCE where'd you live and I'll stick an application in!
  15. I have to say that not all areas of the country suffer from these problems. In the area of Wales I live in our schools are fully staff with experienced maths teachers and the only jobs available are when someone retires. There are jobs available but our situation isn't as dire as some people seem to be suffering from. Mind you, in a few years time there are going to be a lot of retirements so that should be a very interesting time.

  16. DM

    DM New commenter

    Indeed ic3g1rl.
    Last year I was at a meeting of mathematics teachers at the QCDA and we were discussing the staffing crisis. A teacher from Wales chipped in with "It really is terrible. We advertised this year and only had 6 applicants. How can we be expected to appoint from a field of that size?!"
    A teacher from Cumbria turned to me and muttered that he would kill for a field of one!
  17. Oh, I bet you all laughed! But from their point of view they were probably choosing from 20 applicants not very long ago.
    When I trained one of our trainees got a job, in England, in November and was told they wanted him whether he passed or not! Crazy but true.
  18. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    I note what DM has mentioned, however, I still think that those places that can't be filled don't appear to turn up in the jobs market.
    I refer to the current TES listings which show 34 maths secondary teaching positions worldwide.

    Once the 12 foreign positions are removed that leaves 22 maths vacancies throughout the UK and Scotland.
    So if there are other vacancies that are currently being filled by temps or supply then how would an interested teacher know where to send a speculative cv?
    I imagine there are other job markets allied to the TES, however, would have assumed that the TES was a fair indicator of the jobs out there.
  19. We now use an agency to recruit

    Especially NQTs as they talk to the training agencies

    This year we appointed 4 NQTs (2 in maths) and 2 subject leaders without TES
  20. DM

    DM New commenter

    MathMan1 likes this.

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