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What makes a good maths teacher?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by robyn147, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. This follows on from a debate on a previous thread. Simple question - what makes a good maths teacher? Are the skills different for teachers working with lower sets compared to higher sets? Differerent for different schools? Is a maths qualification necessary?
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    This follows on from a debate on a previous thread. Simple question - what makes a good maths teacher? Are the skills different for teachers working with lower sets compared to higher sets? Differerent for different schools? Is a maths qualification necessary?
  3. Well, when a mummy and a daddy really love each other, they have a "special" cuddle and sometimes that means that the mummy will end up with a baby in her tummy. When the baby is born, it can be a boy or a girl. If the baby is treally lucky, it will grow up to be a Mathsa teacher.
    Good Maths teachers are ones who do what they are told and eat all their vegetables and never say rude words or nasty things about other people.

    cyolba, teaching PSHE to year 10 today :)
  4. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Wrong question. We're all trying to stop being 'good' and start being 'outstanding'. Ofsted said so...
  5. mmmmmaths

    mmmmmaths New commenter

    I thought you now had to be world class.
  6. Somebody who can when faced with a class of approx 30 adolescents, engage them for the best part of an hour, and at the end of that hour they all leave knowing something about maths that they didn't know before or be able to do some aspect of maths better than they were be able to do before. And before you ask for some lessons I must admit I'm not a particuarly good teacher,
    Maybe somebody from OFSTED could read this and start judging maths teachers from a point of view of how successful their methods are instead how closely they fit to the percieved vision of a perfect lesson.
    Pehaps I'm only destined to be satisfactory !

  7. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    Well, there seems to be some debate about what Maths teachers are even trying to achieve. I'm assuming that most Maths teachers will be aware of articles such as Richard Skemp's "Relational Understanding and Instrumental Understanding" (as it was published in 1976):
    So you first need to decide why you are teaching it - do you want your students to be able to "do" Maths, or to understand it?
    I'm an ICT specialist who also does some Maths (so the article was new to me), and in ICT there seems to be a constant debate over whether we should only teach things that are vocationally useful. Thankfully that debate doesn't seem to exist in Maths, even though I can't imagine anyone needing to work out the area of a trapezium in the workplace.
  8. mmmmmaths

    mmmmmaths New commenter

    Lots of reasons for needing the area of a trapezium.

    For example.
    Search for trapezoid window treatments. Sure the manufacturer needs to work out costings!
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    If they can understand the maths then (apart from lapses of memory) they will be able to do it.

    Have a look at some roofs.

    Actually, as the "good maths teacher" has been debated often, what about what makes a bad maths teacher.
    • Entered teaching because they couldn't think of anything else to do, or it was the best they could manage in regard to holidays, pay, or looking after their own kids at the same time.
    • Main aspiration is to get into management and earn as much as possible, or gain as much power as possible.
    • Isn't particularly good at maths.
    • Has no passion for maths.
    • Doesn't care if students understand or enjoy maths, as long as they pass the exam.
    • Doesn't particularly like kids or enjoy being in the classroom.
    • And, probably worst of all! When they achieve a SMT position, work hard to keep out teachers who might be better than them, and who students might find inspiring.
  10. DM

    DM New commenter

    Area of a trapezium = distance travelled by a constantly accelerating body with initial speed a and final speed b over time h (please excuse the absence of units).
  11. The bottom line:
    A good, or better, maths teacher can move each and every class they teach on and get the most out of the kids.
    This may be the NQT who takes year 7s from level 2-3, gives them stability and controls their behaviour to the maths guru who makes STEP papers seem easy for the best 17/18 year old kids in a private school.
    There is no blueprint, its simply a case of giving your all and making a massive difference.
  12. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Totally agree with sentiments of Betamale's post.
    This is a really good point. We spend so long, these days, disecting teaching, drawing up lists of features of satisfactory, good and outstanding teaching. However, teaching is a very personal thing. Our personality is in our teaching. I cannot teach in the way my colleagues do, neither, as HOD, do I tell them how they should teach. We do discuss good ideas, and try to incorporate them into our toolkit of skills, where appropriate.
    However, there are some teachers who do none of these things but, time after time, they achieve high value added scores. The kids may not 'have a ball' but they appreciate the fact they're going to learn, and respect the teacher for that and prefer being in those classes than the 'all singing, all dancing' ones where the teacher cannot turn the fun into hard results.

  13. Thats true, good points all. I remember growing up always hearing this "understanding is the father of knowledge, repetition is the mother"
    I think Passion is the first thing a maths teache must have, the real love for the elegance of Maths. I find that with some students it helps to make it a puzzle, like a search for truth. I prove theorems to my lot, doesnt work with all (some just don't have logic) but it does work with the most. If understanding just isn't there, then the repetition is the only way. [​IMG]

  14. It sadly is. In many schools its mostly classroom management rather than teaching. *sigh* sad but true. As for maths qualifications being necessary. Oh well, mathematics is more than just computations and so on, its about developing logic and thought proccess. Suvorov said "Mathematics - gymnastics for the brain, Lomonosov said "One must learn mathematics even if it is just for one reason, it puts the mind in order".

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