Memorable events – part 3
Here we bring you more ‘stories’ that were recalled by practitioners at our May event last year:
A personal experience: I studied maths to O-Level and struggled to understand areas of maths. I now know that this was in part due to being taught in a very instrumental way. This led to my having a wariness of maths and had no confidence. This began to change when I began my PGCE and discovered many different ways to approach maths. From this I began to develop my mathematical thinking so I could help children in the classroom. Now I lead primary maths on an ITE programme and train student teachers how to teach maths!
Teaching undergraduate and post-graduate primary trainees I come across many students who report negative experiences in their own maths education that has led to them expressing an active dislike of the subject. This is a worry as they will have to teach maths every day as part of the profession they are training to join. Many of them tell stories of being told by teachers they were “no good at maths”, when they asked for help they were ignored or told they were too slow. This perception that maths is something that has to be done quickly pervades through experiences, leaving people with a lack of confidence and feeling they are no good at maths.
My daughter’s anxiety about maths was much increased by one teacher who told her she was stupid when she still didn’t understand. A different teacher gave her advice, time, sympathy, extra practice and she felt much better.
Husband really only understood maths when he taught it.
Panicking in GCE mock exams (yes, that does say ‘GCE’!).
A fellow teacher admitting that she could not do the same sort of level of maths as the rest of us (offered a mental maths test on a training day, most went for 6a but she wanted 4a but was too ashamed to pick it up)
Curent student feedback from mock GCSEs showing they found it hard to work out how to answer maths questions.
Fellow teachers my age grappling with statistical analyses of data when they’d never been taught any statistics, even at school (residuals anyone?)
As a teacher… having a student start the year in your class showing high level of anxiety around maths and very low levels of confidence. Through building a positive relationship, making the work accessible, scaffolding and mediating the learning and giving regular small opportunities of success the student’s attitude towards maths begins to change. This student said to me “I couldn’t do maths in the past, I can do it now, I have to work hard and keep going but I can do it now”.
Working with a student with very low self-confidence and whose attitude towards their ability in maths fluctuated. One day they were approached with a problem that they did understand, their anxieties around the work became so great that they wouldn’t even try to accept support/reassurance about their abilities -> repeating “I can’t do it”/head on desk. Despite the work being something they had been successful previously.