Maths is the subject I have always been less enthusiastic about. I, like many other people associate maths with fear, dread, failure and disappointment. I know that as a teacher it is the ‘responsibility of all’ to teach maths and increase pupil engagement and confidence with numeracy. I need to be the person that shows my own enthusiasm for this subject in order for my pupils to reflect this positive behaviour – but how can I do this when every time I think about teaching maths I fill with complete dread? The answer is to face my fear of maths head on and change my relationship with numbers into a positive one.
In the input today, Tara Harper made a very powerful point on how she feels innumeracy should be just as unacceptable as illiteracy. There are far too many children in today’s generation as well as my own that lack basic maths skills and ultimately this will be detrimental to the rest of their lives. I think it is unfortunate that so many children struggle with maths. As I can relate to this all too well I understand why so many children end up giving up on this at such an early age. I was fortunate enough to have a really supportive teacher in primary school who reminded me during math lessons that even the best mathematicians in the world struggled and made mistakes before getting the right answer. There is nothing in life that comes to you without understanding what not to do. I have always remembered this message, and it is what pushed me through my fears of maths all the way through both primary and secondary school. I hope to take this positive outlook with me on my professional journey to give the children in my class reassurance and confidence in their work and prove to them that there are several different ways in finding the answer in maths.
Maths surrounds us, even when we don’t realise it. Whether it is reading bus timetables or working out when to set our alarms in the morning. If children have this thought engrained into them that they can’t do maths, then daily activities such as these will become difficult. We take these simple concepts for granted, as they are very different from the Pythagoras and BODMAS that you teach in the classroom. It is our role as a teacher to break maths down into different, easier to grasp components, to show children the everyday uses of math and make it clear to them that they CAN do maths.
It is important to always highlight to children that they can improve. One factor that knocks childrens confidence when it comes to maths is being told blatantly that what they have done is wrong. Adults have the responsibility to tell children that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that the mistakes they make are just learning opportunities for them to do better next time. Helping a child understand where they went wrong step by step can reassure them that they can do maths and will help them overcome their maths anxiety. This will ultimately allow their confidence to grow, making it easier for them to progress within the subject.
Overall, overcoming maths anxiety is the way in which I can become a better practitioner. Sharing enthusiasm for maths with the children will mean that we will all develop a positive relationship with each other and for the subject. Getting over my fear of maths is the only way in which I can enforce it in the classroom, and further develop my skills as a teacher.
I have loved dancing from a young age. I started ballet classes at aged three and ended up completing my grade 8 ballet exam last year. It’s always been part of my life, so I was eager to get going with the dance input that we had. I got it in to my head that it was going to be similar to the dancing I had always done, but obviously it wasn’t. I was thrown off guard, into a situation I didn’t feel comfortable – I felt all my enthusiasm and confidence completely drain from me. Ultimately though I took this as a positive learning experience as I felt it allowed me to connect with any child who struggles in confidence when it comes to dance, or any form of Physical activity in school.
Dancing isn’t just about the physical dancing either. Linked fully in with the curriculum as a physical activity, it gets your pupils out of their seats and participating in a lesson where they are being active, thereby contributing to their own health and wellbeing. This has shown me that all areas of the curriculum are linked together, and although dance isn’t seen as a likely contender, it is actually very important in different areas across the curriculum for excellence such as PE and more desk-based work such as literacy, where children can relate their feelings and enjoyment towards dance onto creative stories.
Putting yourself in the children’s shoes is important as a teacher, in order to get the lessons right for everyone. The whole way through the dance input, I kept addressing concepts such as how the children would feel in the lesson, how they would react to the activity and how this would be beneficial to their learning. You see dance from a completely different perspective when it comes to teaching it. I was able to put my teacher head on to understand and appreciate the importance of teaching children about movement and rhythm from a young age, as this will stay with them as they grow into more confident learners. The workshop has ultimately allowed me to start thinking about teaching dance and to begin meeting identified Experiences and Outcomes such as:
- I enjoy creating short dance sequences, using travel, turn, jump, gesture, pause and fall, within safe practice. EXA 1-08a
Ultimately, from the input I will take forward to placement the concept of highlighting the importance of creativity in children and young people’s learning. It is so important that the children in the classroom are aware of how dance is related to other areas of the curriculum and to their future learning. Linking it with other topics of the curriculum that you are studying in the class such as Religious and Moral education: using this as a stimulus for activities involving dance and movements will get the children thinking about and understanding the bigger picture. I will also take away the idea that the classroom is a safe space, where you as the teacher should make all children feel involved and confident enough in their own abilities and bodies to participate in the lesson. As the teacher, you must be the one that is enthusiastic to reflect the behaviour of your students. If you don’t have this, then you shouldn’t expect cooperation with the class and I have learnt the importance of this today -as I was guilty of not being the most enthusiastic. However, reflecting on it, I understand how I must have this confidence in order to gain enthusiasm and confidence from the pupils.
There are so many reasons why I want to devote my career to the role of an educator. I ultimately believe that a career in education is one of the most important functions performed within our culture. Teachers have the ability to improve the world by constantly helping broaden children’s minds, so that they can think in new ways. I want to be a teacher so that I can develop a new generation of thinking individuals. As a teacher I can influence decisions, behaviours, strengths and weaknesses to help children reach their full potential and accomplish goals they set for themselves.
I have always loved the chance of giving all young people the best start in life. Interacting with children is great. Be that on educational grounds or recreational activities, it’s a lot more fun learning with kids. No two days in the classroom are the same. All children learn in different ways and every class has a different dynamic that must be controlled and catered to when it comes to classroom environment and discipline. So, I may be teaching the same subject over and over again, but it’ll never be taught the same way twice and I love that.
I think another big reason why I want to teach is that I have been inspired by many teachers that I’ve had throughout my school career. They have all been patient yet firm with their students, were always fair, set high expectations for the class and knew how to motivate students so that self-esteem was increased. This is the type of teacher that I want to become. I want to be that teacher that children feel safe and comfortable with so that they can always do their very best. I want to be that teacher that is dedicated to seeing my students succeed. This is what I strive for.
So why do I want to be a teacher? I honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else. To be a lifelong learner is appealing to me. I will always be looking for ways to improve my skills and pass this on to my students and there will be times when I learn from my students too. So, although there are the hours of making lesson plans, and having to deal with troubled individuals, it is the most rewarding job. I get to show children how fun learning can be, and how their strengths can make a difference to the world. This is what motivates me to become the best teacher I possibly can be.