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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. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Yes, DM, I hadn't considered that in my reply.
    I've saved the page since I don't see those dates changing anytime soon.
  2. Hate to rain on your parade, but maths is no longer the shortage subject it once was. I've (finally) landed a post for September (qualified in June this year) after several months of looking. The main problem is that the jobs are not equally distributed across the country. I live in the East Midlands, and there just haven't been as many posts advertised this year compared to last. Also, the number of people taking up places on maths PGCEs has increased dramatically, so it doesn't take much working out to seee that if jobs are down, trainees are up there will be less of a shortage.
    At the moment, in my area there are a significant number of people still looking for that elusive first post in maths.
    As to what makes a good maths teacher? One who makes maths fun or interesting. My best moment so far was when a Y7 boy came up to me and said "I didn't used (sic) to like maths, miss, but it's really fun with you". If you enjoy putting in the hours to help kids achieve something worthwhile, then it really doesn't get much better than that...
  3. i am in the East Midlands

    We appointed 2 maths this year, school up the road appointed a head of maths and another teacher, third local school is a maths teacher and a half down

    None of us had massive fields (we had the best for NQT level)

    There is still a shortage and certainly a shortage of good
  4. Sorry, but that doesn't match my experience, nor that of the (several) colleagues still out there looking. Then again, maybe you're just suggesting that we are rubbish...
  5. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    We're fully staffed for the start of next year, but only just. Finding suitable candidates for HoD and 2nd is extremely tough, even in places where people can afford to live.
  6. Not in the slightest, sorry if it came across that way

    We appointed our NQTs back in Feb ... as I have said we used an agency rather than the TES

    I do know that the local school I mentioned had no applicants in spite of TES

    Perhaps you are north EM ... we are south EM
  7. Yes I am north east mids (as it were). Also, I think that on my course a lot of people applied for posts earlier than usual (not an option that was open to me) - it was quite noticeable that we either had jobs by April/May or really struggled/ are still struggling. It's all a bit difficult to quantify, and at the end of the day different posts have different requirements, I guess.
  8. DM

    DM New commenter

    So I think we have established it is extremely easy to find a position as a mathematics teacher if you are prepared to relocate but there are large regional variations.
    MathMan1 likes this.
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    So what's it like up North then? That would be Leeds, Wakefield, North Yorkshire area.

  10. I have read most of the posts and you can debate if its a shortage subject or not based on stats, your perception and demographic extremes.
    That is not something I would read int. If you want to teach, qualify and apply from there and make an educated choice on whther its the career to suit your circumstances.
    I abhor the current "what makes good" Ofsted garbage about teaching and especially as most passing judgement or training the new crop are either teachers from 20 years ago or non maths specialists. I am working with some awful tachers who are just box ticking at the moment to please the Ofsted criteria to pass PGCEs and GTPs. Its all a circus act.
    What is a maths teacher?
    20 years ago, in the main, it was a strong subject specialist who was able to teach, had to dea with minimal low level disruption or poor behaviour and could teach maths in the majority of schools.
    Fastforward to now....
    What is a maths teacher?
    In some schools it is a more cultured version of the above who is innovative, inspires and develops mathematical thinking.
    In reality, after experience of teaching in 5 different schools, I can say that is rarely the case. Teaching in a nice grammar school with good sets will allow you to be a teacher and ensure you can carry out (an ever increasing) pastoral duties.
    Is this the case in many 'comps'? I would say not. I know some of the best mathematicians who cannot teach. They are weak, cannot enforce discipline nor inspire pupils to wrk. Teaching a range of abilities and factoring in the behaviour of some sets means the teacher is purely there on the kids terms and struggling to enforce basic crowd cotrol. The ability of some students is so very poor that its little more than glorified babysitting.
    I have sets that can add 2 digit numbers in Y10 and the lesson is spent creating a learning environment through string discipline and trying to encourage basic skills in line with that of primary school kids. Most lessons have to be very hands on, short tasks to allow the pupils to remain motivated and I trade strongly on a physical presence to ensure pupils know where I stand.
    Flip that over to the Y12s and you have an amazng time, sitting down with the kids, enjoying the maths you wanted to teach and having a good time. This accounts for 10-20% of my time table. Much of the rest of the time is basic crowd control and giving pupils some boundaries and picking up on (sometimes) up to 6-7 years of no real math education.
    If you are teaching KS3-4 you dont need to be a subject specialist, you justhave to be comfortable with the higher end GCSE stuff. IN many comps tere are very few top sets and even now the GCSEs are so very simple that you don't really need much math background to fit into a department. I could fill my timetable with nothing beyond level 4-5 at Key stage 3.
    The best teacher is situation specific. in a good school all of the things people have mentioned come into it. In many other jobs you are little more than a glorified babysitter firefighting behaviour and motivation in a LARGE number of secondary schools where standards are very low.
    I find so many PGCE students and GTP candidates try and create a circus act to fit everything into their lessons and abandon the reality of quality mathematical teaching...(thats a whole different thread though)
    The reason I teach is for A level now, without it I would go insane wading through the 6/7/8 times tables with 15 year olds.
    5 schools, 4 fit into the bracket above, the other was a good grammar school. I have experience of other schools and I fear it will only get further away from maths and closer to basuc human skills,
    I think the edexcel GCSE this year confirms maths education in this country is a joke.
  11. DM

    DM New commenter

    Strong views henry. What are YOU doing to change the situation?
  12. My part in the machine is a small one but I will not give up trying to inspire teachers to deliver lessons with a high challenge lesson in, lesson out and establish some consistency. Lessons where pupils can go back to learning maths rather battling through lessons damaged by poor behaviour and low aspirations/drive/desire to work and see the big picture. From experience, many new teachers are aiming at these all singing all dancing lesson observations and not on the day in day out delivery of strong lessons free of the gimmicks which were are bound by by Ofsted, Why try and teach something in a tactile manner if the subject doesnt suit it? WHy create this impression you are teaching in this way when all other lessons are shockers where pupils dont do a thing?
    As stated, this excludes many schools and many classes within schools but there (again IMO) too many opportunities for subject rich people who are not suited to teaching in the 21st centruy a way into the classroom because they have a piece of paper saying they read math at uni level. So what? My partner has a 1st in a subject which they imply could never teach as subject knowledge (especially at KS3/4) for most subjects can be learned as you go. The skills of controlling classes, getting pupils to work shouldnt be subject to having a degree in a subject that is so watered down its laughable.
    As you can see, my English is shocking yet I am teaching a 2nd set through GCSE in September. I plan to complete the course required in the summer holidays and keep 1 week ahead of the kids. I am teaching them as they are poorly behaved, lack motivation and need to be inspired.
    A good teacher can teach any subject at KS3/4 within reason (I exclude the MFLs and Arts) but English, Maths, History, Science, Geography in MOST secondary schools can be taught by non specialist who are natural teachers able to control behaviour and inspire pupils to learn.
    I have stated time and time again to the TDA that the profession should not require a degree to get into BUT should become a masters profession whilst in the job. This way far more skills rich people would get in over those who got a degree 20 years ago or are academics straight out of Uni who are simply not suited for the job. These folk often have a knock on effect school wide as weak links in a school mean defualt behaviour will come into your classes if (for example) you are taking pupils in year 10 after 3 years of poor control and a environment where they haven't learned before.
    2 friends cannot get into teaching for the next 3 years beyond instructor status because they couldnt afford to go to uni in their late teens many years ago. These 2 are far better practitioners than the paper rich, ineffective teachers who crumble in the corner of the staff room after a lesson with 8Z5 last thing Friday who have this magic QTS status. The TDA should focus on skills rich, strong, enthusiastic, erudite people who are willing to do a masters in education whilst in the job rather than those who are less suited to the profession. Do you think prison officers should all have degress in criminology? Whilst a very glib suggestion, teaching in many schools is not what math is about.
    I can't change it but I will continue to teach with high pace, high challenege, lesson in lesson out to push standards up and hope to help others in my department, school and profession do the same but I can only see behviour and attitude to work getting worse an maths becoming even more of a joke.
  13. You can be as inspiring as anything but, without subject knowledge, what are you inspiring them to learn?
  14. Define subject knowledge..... You don't need to have a degree or an A level in maths to teach what is being delivered at KS3/4 in 2010 , most will pick it up very easily. The challenge of the content is so low that most midly intelligent adults can pick it up in a very short period of time.
    Many adults of our generation in the UK who would go into teaching have had a basic education in math.
    If you really believe that most maths classes in many secondary schools go beyond basic topics or those that cant be learned very quickly then Im not sure what environment you are working in, but its not one I have seen. Top top end KS4 students and A level pupils account for such a small % of those who need an education in math its untrue.
    You can inspire people to learn anything if you create the right environment for learning. I have taught subjects that I dont have a clue about (RE being one of them) Yet I learned a little myself, worked with some lower level pupils and all went on to increase their grades and work ethic.
    There is nothing on the current edexcel foundation paper I would not be able teach a logical adult in an evening......if that adult can control a clas, inspire learning and get pupils onside then you have progress right there. This is where teaching needs its solid foundations from my experience

  15. i think that is the main issue- how to inspire to learn
    the previous writer states it how it is- not some made up fairy tale, or the latest pedagolocal study.
    ten years ago the students i were with were a mix but the majority with 3rds with nothing else they could do- the old maxim of teachers. it wasn't that they didn't have enough subject knowledge it was the fact that most were doing a career that was plan B- did they have the passion to inspire?
    the fact that most teaching schools look over is that student's attitudes have cahnged- have hardened this generation. Most teaching is more about crowd control than subject matter. The argument that the subject has to be presented to engage students is a valid one. What makes a good teacher- i don't know- life skills, passion, interest, control of discipline, luck, training, support. Anyway good luck-ask , observe, question, ask fort help and ultimatley be in control and don't question the fact that you are doing the best you can.
  16. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Is this really how you feel? If it is then it fills me with great sadness - both for you and the students that you profess to teach. Perhaps one day you will realise the difference but I doubt it.
  17. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    No idea what that last line means. Sorry! Just ignore it.
  18. Can you let me know where this school is as I am still looking to secure a post for September
  19. In my school we have a very able Maths teacher being made redundant. They have been looking for a job in London and have so far been unsuccessful. Still a shortage subject? I'm not sure, I was certain a job in London would be easy to find.
  20. This is the typical response I expect from someone sitting behind a PC somewhere off in the world of "I know better"
    Don't fill yourself with sadness, don't fill yourself with pity for me or my students, worry about the reality that many teachers will face even if you feel you are above this in your current position. Suggesting I am not teaching my pupils is also laughable and trying to patronise me again only serves to outline your own ignorance and perceived supremacy rather than addressing a real situation.
    I love teaching, I am just happy to post my veiws and not suggest its an easy career for many secondary school teachers and heaven forbid, 'National Challenge Schools' of which I have spent some time teaching in.
    In short, instead of being negative why not allow me to come and observe an average day of teaching with you as it will give me an understanding of where I can develop as a minority teacher?

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