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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. Is this something you can 100% control. SImilar to saying "to have a good relationship, the key to success is enjoying it"
    Not all factors will allow for enjoyment.
    I love maths, I love helping people but to say I enjoy a low ability/poorly behaved year 10 group who are not doing a GCSE for 3 last periods per week would be a fallacy.
    The majority of the lesson is a case of containing a situation with many volatile pupils who know they are not going to get a GCSE. Their math ability is too low to do too many rich tasks and 4 hours a week with them soon leads to a saturation in terms of motivating fun lessons.
    I agree you have to enjoy your job but it doesn't make you a good teacher or a bad one if you don't enjoy parts of it. A good teacher in this situation is someone who can keep pupils seated, maintaining some discipline and keeping these pupils out of more productive classes. Learning is a slow and very few teachers want them, good or bad.
  2. hello everybody,
    could i please ask a Q. i am French teacher, qualified in Ukraine, then studied accountancy in London, never really taught properly except during the traingin practice at uni. but i would find boring teaching French. i think teaching Maths would be much more interesting. but i dont have a degree in maths, i know i can do PGCE in maths, but do you think i will be able to teach just by knowing ks3-4 and how would headteachers look at some one who does not have maths degreet. i did a practice in school teaching French so i completely agree with those on this forum who say that you have to know your subject very well, i am kind of stuck, not sure what to do. however later on if i do get a position i would love to do a maths degree.
    any thoughts pos or neg would be much appreciated
    many thanks
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Have you considered retraining to become an English teacher?
  4. ha ha, if you are joke then a nice joke :) but if your question is serious then how can i be an English teacher in the English country if English is not my native language, pupils are going to eat me alive :), even though i am fluent in English i dont think i can ever be as good as those people who are born here and definitely not good for teaching English.
    i might as well go back to teaching French but i find it boring. but thank you for suggestion.
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You don't have a degree in maths but you think you will be fine in teaching it. You have no experience of teaching beyond your teacher training and you find teaching French - the subject you are trained for - "boring".
    So really, honestly, do you think you are going to get a position teaching in an English school with your very poor level of English ability and no qualification in Maths and no teaching experience?
  6. googolplex
    This response below sums it up for me
    So, no, there has always been an issue with behaviour but there is not one universal consequence that bothers kids anymore and with more and more political correctness and human rights the kids rule the room.
    The ethos of learning is no longer there in many mainstream schools. This has changed
  7. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Well, of course, I can't speak for all schools, but I can relate to my own experiences.
    Kids, by and large behave - where they don't, we're supported by the next layer of management. If I wasn't, I'd go and kick up a fuss, but have never felt the need to. I never feel the need for a more draconian punishment system. Parents are not universally supportive, but they are the majority of the time - nothing much has changed there in 25 years. Some parents have unrealistic expectations often fed by the "all rights, no responsibility" culture which successive governments have fostered. IMO, 'parent power' is complete nonsense.
    Occasionally, I resort to imagining myself pummelling a particularly irritating student (or parent, for that matter) [​IMG]. I wouldn't say that paints a particularly different picture from when I started; in fact, for me it has got easier since I have more clout than when I started. When I started, some teachers controlled the kids. Some didn't. I would say there's better, coordinated response/support where a teacher sets out, systematically, to tackle poor behaviour than there used to be. (I've previously taught in schools where management refuse to support - and said that behaviour is my responsibility as a teacher).
    Oh well; maybe I'm lucky...
    MathMan1 likes this.
  8. Hello everybody, I very much appreciate everybody's comments, either good or bad.
    , thank you very much, it was the first encouraging and sensible post, the rest of posts (relating to me) appeared to be some kind of unhelpful puritanical moaning.
    , thank you for your comments, I appreciate your concern because, as an ex-linguist, I would have been the first one to cringe at an even minor grammatical mistake. I also do understand your contempt of my type of language. However, as a linguist again, I would like to point out that languages do evolve and change and I do not think that a language can possibly be misused, and it is evidently a stylistic choice of a norm rather than a universal norm, and in general the aspect in question is certainly rhetorical and philosophical only rather than scientifically exact. In business for example the informal email correspondence tends to be brief and to the point and avoids unnecessary capitalization of letters and the focus is on the sense and meaning, rather than exceptional grammar, hence my style, I was just trying to get some info quickly and I was also typing too fast and did not deem it necessary to check what I wrote, hence the typos, punctuation, etc. Nevertheless, point taken and I must admit that my English has rusted a bit due to some life experiences, so maybe I should start using formal and grammatically correct English, otherwise I guess I will not get a job :). Finally why don’t we get to the gist of the problem rather than circle around it.
    : most recent conversation about classroom management is quite interesting.
    In Ukraine two years before GCSEs, in some cases, we actually separate students and we thus make two different groups, one with higher abilities and one with lower, it makes things obviously easier.

    In what way does your management support you in case of bad behaviour?
    Could you please describe how you approached / managed a worst case of poor behaviour?
    Thanks again for all your comments.
  9. Apologies for no spacing between the paragraphs in my recent post, there were spaces when I typed :(, but then my pc must have developed brain tumours.
  10. arsinh

    arsinh New commenter

    Quite remarkable. None of us had even considered such a radical move.
  11. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    In the way I'd expect. First of all, I need to ensure I support and teach according to the school behaviour policy which is nothing special - just simple statements about what we expect kids to be doing, and staff to be doing - responsibilities, etc. I've not come across a behaviour situation that can't be dealt with by relating it to the behaviour policy which the kids all have printed up in their homework diaries and have signed up to.
    Then, you tackle behaviour on a case-by-case basis. I never subscribe to a "if this happens, then that's the outcome" approach. One of my first jobs as HoD was to chuck out all standardised detention letters - these just encouraged people to chuck loads of kids in detention with no care for the consequences, and led to all sorts of behaviours being given the same treatment. That's not to say we don't give detentions, but we think a bit more carefully about this.
    Secondly, good teaching is all about relationships. What good is it for one of my NQTs next lesson, if they shove a kid in detention with me? It doesn't mend that relationship. Where possible, in the first instance, the teacher retains control of the situation; I discuss strategies with them, and we seek a way forward. Where the student continues to misbehave, then that takes things to another level. I intervene with various strategies - talking with the student/staff, meetings, report cards, calls home, letters, chats with pastoral staff etc.
    When we've tried that we ratchet things up a bit more. Isolation, more report cards, detentions after school, pastoral input.
    When I've done what I can reasonably do, the case gets passed on - out of my hands. We have forms to fill in at all stages, and support staff who write all of these onto the management system. Usually, this will involve a longer period of isolation, and involves cases where a student is persistent in their misbehaviour and not mending their ways. But, the bottom line is that, if a student cannot behave in a lesson, then the ultimate sanction is to take them out of that lesson until they can behave. I won't have people's education messed up by one selfish individual.
    The only situation where this breaks down is where parents don't support which, IME, is rare provided the situation has been managed fairly down the line. If this is the case and the parent is still being bolshy, I'd expect SLT to step in. If they didn't, as HOD, I'd have something to say to them. If the situation wasn't managed correctly in the first place, then I haven't got a leg to stand on. In such cases, its better to eat humble pie, meet with parents and students and thrash out a way forward.
    I seem to get by on most of the above. It ain't perfect; it doesn't always work like the above. But, most of the time we get by and teaching remains a good job. Certainly not the armageddon situation described by someone a few posts back. We're just a bog standard large 11-19 comp in a market town. Nothing special.
  12. Thank you Googleplex, I pretty much expected that kind of approach, I just thought that maybe there was a couple of exceptional cases with an exceptionally interesting approach / discussion with a kid.
    Do you know maths teachers who came from non-sci or non-maths background?
    And if you know, how do headteachers look at that kind of applicants?
    many thanks

  13. Hiya Max, it appears that in some areas of the UK there is no longer the shortage of maths teachers that there once was. However, I think many schools are still staffing the maths faculties with any teacher they can find, whatever their background. I'm not a head teacher, but if I was looking at such applicants I'd want to see enthusiasm for mathematics (so it's communicated to the students) and a very obvious willingness to accept training and guidance in teaching maths. (I was unwilling to comment on your use of English before because I'm sure I wouldn't come across half as well in my second language. However, in my opinion, previous posters were right about it reading poorly and it's not down to informal usage or informal typing).
  14. As an even-more-mature-than-you PGCE student just about to qualify, my advice is:
    <ol>[*]Wait until your baby is older. PGCE is full-on full-time and you have to take a minimum number of school days so there is no compromise [*]There are essays to write and a great deal of reading materials to get through as well as time consuming lesson planning[*]If you live near a number of training centres you will find it hard to get a job: with many younger people applying, the date-of-birth box is a disadvantage I think[*]Spend some time enhancing your subject knowledge - you will need to be secure before teaching[*]Do it!!!!! </ol>
  15. JUST who are these African leek pickers and deportees? Perhaps thats one other possible reason why I never get replies/acknowledgement. Unfortunately, I cannot disguise my African roots and the fact that I came here as an asylum seeker before doing a PGCE here. All that history defines who I am, otherwise there will be shocking unexplained gaps in my work/education history. By the way, I had to face some pretty challenging periods trying to convince the Homeoffice to allow me to work, paid or unpaid! At one point I was permitted only to do cleaning/nursing home/oxfam voluntary work (no leek picking though)......
    The point is that people need a chance and have the right not to be judged according to the tags that some society have chosen to put on people like me. For yo own info, I'm now 'wondering' why some 12+ schools have failed to give feedback as to why I wasn't listed for interview . Did they even read my application????
  16. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Perhaps another reason is that your qualifications and experience make you unsuitable?
    Maybe your application and CV just doesnt highlight your strentghs and needs rewriting - who knows - but please dont take offence at Betamale who was merely offering an honest post on the fact that many vancancies do exist and many applicants are totally unsuitable.

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