Maths

Maths has always been one of my favourite subjects! Although I loved it, I wouldn’t say I was amazing at it, I really had to work on different topics to improve my grades and understanding in school, but it was always something so rewarding to me. Every problem is like a puzzle – there is a solution and there are many different ways to get there. I can always remember the feeling of staring at problems in my GCSEs for ages and the moment it clicks and you can get started you really feel like you accomplish something.

Tara Harper’s love for maths has really encouraged me and excited me for teaching maths to children. For me, the beautiful part of maths is the feeling when you (finally) solve the problems that you have, whether that be on the first attempt or more likely after a few goes of trial and error. Maths is different in that there usually a set answer of right and wrong. Before the inputs, I think I had been stuck in the academic way that maths is only about getting the right answer and that’s it, however, Tara has shown me that there are so many opportunities to connect maths across the curriculum! One particular method was where she asked us to work out a simple problem and told us we would be feeding back. However, before we all shouted out the answer, she told us it. To some this may seem pointless, however, this opens up a door to so much more. From this, we had to use our communication skills to show how we solved the problem through critical thinking which can also be applied to every day life for example, working out the best pizza deal or phone contract.

It’s time to dispel the myths that ‘I’m rubbish at maths’, ‘You’re either good at maths or literacy’ and especially from parents ‘I was awful at maths.’ I believe that if you approach everything with an open mind and a positive attitude, it will go better! If someone tells you you are bad, or you have a thought in your mind that you can’t do something then it will likely prevent you from succeeding.

I know from experience that maths isn’t just going to click for everyone. I loved algebra, however when it came to circle theorems I just couldn’t get my head around them. For me, the difference here to perhaps the experiences of others was an amazing teacher. My GCSE (Nat 5 for all the Scots) teacher gave up so much time to help me with the same topics over and over again, and put up with me having my hand up every five minutes in the classroom. I wasn’t afraid because I knew I wanted to succeed in maths.

In the classroom with our future pupils, we need to make sure that there is an open space to discuss our problems and ask questions, no matter how basic or complex they are, because any question is better than no question. One thing that helped me, was not just looking at maths from the one set way the teacher did calculations, but looking and trying a variety of ways to find which one was the best for me. Everyone can do maths and has the ability to do maths, their approach may take longer or it might take them longer to grasp a topic but that is completely okay! Encourage their work, if the answer is wrong, don’t just mark a big cross over it and tell pupils to try again! Commend their efforts in trying to solve it and walk through the solution with them. Through these approaches I hope my pupils can have the same feeling when doing maths as I do.

Equity and Equality

We live in a technologically advanced society where often your possessions provide the first judgement for people. “Oh you have the Iphone X? You must be rich!” “Oh you still have that nokia? Wow that’s old fashioned!”

In our group project today we were given a task to make something, however, we could see that we clearly had less than the other groups and some people started to grumble and complain that we were at a disadvantage because of our lack of resources. The other groups were unaware of this and happily carried on with their abundance of materials whilst we tried to make the best out of what we had.

Although this was a task for our course, we soon learnt it reflected much deeper into society. For me, I took that not every classroom we would enter would have Ipads or interactive whiteboards etc but regardless of that fact, we would have to make the best possible lesson with what we had. In our classroom, we also need to ensure equity. We should give our children as much support as possible depending on their needs. We also need to ensure that we treat everyone equally the same with a complete disregard from any bias we have. Each child deserves constant encouragement and support. Some may need it more than others but we cannot have favourites in the classroom.

Why I chose to become a primary teacher

The first comment I always get when I tell someone I want to teach primary school is “Wow, good luck with that! That is my worst nightmare.” or “That’s a great choice, you’ll have so much free time! Think of all those summer holidays.” But for me, it came down to the possible impact could have.

My desire to become a primary school teacher really started in primary four where I had the best teacher ever. She was so kind, encouraging and helped me to reach my very best every single day. That was the moment I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great to be just like her and be able to make a difference to hundreds of children?”

Truthfully, I was also motivated by my primary school in general. I always felt like there was more I could achieve and a lot more that I could push myself to understand but it never happened. I was a child that loved homework (especially anything to do with maths) but I always had it done in 10 minutes because it just wasn’t a challenge for me. However, when I moved into my grammar school I really felt the consequences of this. My first term was one of the hardest because I just felt so unprepared compared to everyone else.

Fast forward 7 years and I’ve now made it onto my dream course at Dundee. For me, I hope that I can become a teacher who will inspire and challenge her pupils to be the very best they can be. I want to make sure that I play an important part in preparing them for the many challenges they will face the rest of their lives. I can remember the impacts of my teachers and I hope that I can impact even one child to realise their potential. Everyone has different talents and abilities and I hope to help each child realise their ability.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: ‘The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’