I’ve just realised that I have never studied maths in English before! In primary school I did maths in Irish and for the past decade I’ve studied maths in Spanish. So it’s no surprise I need to learn all of the mathematical terms in English. I found this document which explains all the terms you will need to know and be capable of explaining clearly: National Numeracy and Mathematics Progression Framework

The other day I tried the NOMA. I didn’t quite know what to expect so it was all a bit of a surprise. It should be said, I don’t like surprises! I have always enjoyed maths and I usually haven’t struggled with them, so I was hoping to do well. However, I haven’t done maths for quite a few years so it didn’t go quite to plan. So I’ve concocted a plan.

Firstly, I’m going to do all of the practice exercises and come to term with all the terms. After that I’m going to retake the test and see where about I’m at.

Then comes the more serious part. I’ve set up a plan for the next seven weeks. One week per year (P1 up to P7). I’ve compiled this plan after reading up on the curriculum for excellence: numeracy and mathematics. The two documents that I will be referring to throughout these seven weeks will be: Curriculum for Excellence: numeracy and mathematics. Experiences and outcomes and Curriculum for Excellence. Alignment P1 to P7 .

So, starting next Monday I will be going through all of the relevant maths knowledge needed for P1. I’m also going to try and find interesting and cool ways of teaching the subject matter.

After the seven weeks I’ll recap and work out what I need to do from there.

Inequalities. Where do you start?

On Tuesday we had our first Values: Self, Society and the Professions workshop. I was in Carrie’s group, she was the person who interviewed me for this specific degree just a few months ago!! So as you can imagine I was a bit nervous.

We were divided in to four groups. Carrie used our birthdays to accomplish this, which I thought was a nice idea, as usually you group people alphabetically. I’m definitely going to remember that. Each group was given a brown envelope. We all gave each other a look of “What is happening?!”.

We had to make a useful object for university students for their first few days. It’s probably about time I tell you what was in the envelopes. Group 1 had an entire stationary shop on their table, well maybe that’s exaggerating, but they had paper, coloured paper, rubbers, pencils, markers, clips and god knows what else. Group 2 had similar stuff, just slightly less. Group 3 was also similar but quite a bit less. And then there was my group, group 4. We had 1 pencil, 1 pink post-it, 1 rubber band and 3 paper clips. The lucky group right?

So we set off with 10 minutes, or was it 15?, to think of an idea. Our first idea was to use the envelope and draw a map of the campus, and to use the post-it as a way of marking the important buildings. We all thought it was a great idea, but then Carrie approach our table and gave a disapproving look, and most likely made a comment. She managed to make us completely question our idea, so idea number 2 was to use the rubber band as a way of getting to know people in your course. After being told we only had 1 rubber band that idea was scrapped. So we went back to our original idea. We had to present our idea to the other groups and that was when we realised how little we had been given in our envelope.

We had 10 minutes to create the object. I quite liked our idea, a campus map, with the fluorescent pink post-it torn into three, one for each module, with the location and timetable of the module, clipped to the map with the paperclips. However, the interesting part of this part was the way Carrie was acting towards us, she would come over and question us if we were happy with the product, she would look out the window, she spent a long time with group 1 and 2. She made us question ourselves, and managed to make us feel like the outsiders, we weren’t good enough. She also insinuated in one of her comments that maybe we should try and get some more materials from other groups. Two of my group members set off with the rubber band (which we weren’t going to use) to try and swap it for a rubber or a pen, but they returned empty handed. Why? Because the group they went to had so many rubber bands our rubber band was useless to them. Why would they help us if they couldn’t get anything out of it?

We presented our final product, we were the last to present. Group 1 got a very good response from Carrie, group two also. Group three didn’t get much of a response. But the lucky group? Well we presented and we were told to sit down. That’s it. “Sit down”

At that stage we were slightly wary that this was all planned, but then again we didn’t know Carrie. Maybe she did just really dislike us!

It turned out it was all pre-planned and the intention of the workshop was for us to think about inequalities, specifically material inequalities, on a small scale and on a wider scale.

If you would have asked me a few days ago about what inequalities exist, I would have thought of economical, gender, educational inequalities, and that’s about it. If you asked me the same question now I wouldn’t really know where to start. Economical, material, gender, educational, health, political situation, environmental, criminal rates. Where do you start?

The workshop was centred on material inequalities. On a large scale there are inequalities between countries and societies, some have more resources than others. It’s difficult to equalise it. After all a country isn’t going to share its resources. Even on a smaller scale, individuals and groups aren’t going to share their resources if they can’t get anything out of it. This was demonstrated in the workshop, group 1 wasn’t prepared to share their materials with our group.

In a classroom environment the students won’t be on a level playing field with respect to their material possessions, but as the teacher you must be aware that you must treat all the students equally. Carrie demonstrated how important this is and the impact it has on the individuals or group you don’t treat equally. Though Carrie’s behaviour towards us we began to question ourselves and thought of another idea. After all, the less you have the easier to manipulate you into doing something you might not have wanted to.

Luckily I have four years of thinking ahead of me.

And we’re off…

This week has been pretty busy. I have enjoyed it an awful lot, but it’s also made me think more than I have had to in quite a few years. Lectures have started, reading lists are becoming longer by the minute, interesting education reports seem to pop up everywhere. I think I need that reading week next week!

On Tuesday I had my first Values lecture with Derek and Vic. They covered the concepts of bias, how we need to be as aware as possible about our own bias for personal growth, among other concepts. We watched an interesting speech from Panti Bliss, a must see if you haven’t seen it already.

Having rewatched the video quite a few times it’s made me aware how important tolerance is in our society. On an individual basis it’s important to find the balance between being aware of your bias and acting upon them. It’s interesting how this concept has linked in with something mentioned in our Working Together lecture on Thursday, it might be necessary to use certain terms while working with individuals, however you must also challenge those individuals perceptions.

It also reminded me of a thing I read or heard recently. If a student speaks or acts inappropriately, what do you do? My reaction would be to simply say that that isn’t allowed or appropriate, whereas, maybe that is the moment to have a discussion about why it is or isn’t appropriate. I wish I remembered where I read or heard it!

The concepts touched on in the lecture are complex and I honestly haven’t had enough time to process it to be able to discuss it to a further extent.

It makes you think. In the future I will be influencing young minds, to be able to do this to my best ability I need to be confident in my beliefs and thoughts. I’ll only manage that by pushing myself and making myself think and evolve in these next four years.

Why teaching?

Why do I want to become a teacher? It’s quite simple really. I want to be involved in creating a safe environment where children, from all backgrounds, can learn to their maximum potential while enjoying it.

Having grown up in Ireland I adored my primary school. It was always a safe place, where no matter what was happening outside of school the teachers always remained consistent. It was a place that if there were surprises they were good ones. That is my main motivation to be a teacher. To allow children to be children, in a safe and caring environment. Where they will learn in a fun and engaging way. To supply them with the tools so that further on in their lives they will continue to strive and develop as people, no matter what their personal circumstances are. After all, learning can be fun.

I also find it extremely important, and a bit daunting, that I will be influencing my students in their learning. I am very fond of science and maths and I hope that further down the line I will be able to specialise in those areas, as I believe they are going to gain even more importance in the near future.

I’ve been through completely different educational systems and I’m well aware that they all have their weaknesses and strengths. I can’t wait, however, to be involved in this environment and contribute to the school where I will be working, meanwhile developing my own skill set and continuing to learn. It’s really exciting to have started my journey of becoming a teacher.