# Discovering Maths: Going Forward

After receiving our final input today for the Discovering Mathematics module, I realised how much my opinions and misconceptions of mathematics have changed. I wanted to write one final blog post to summarise some of the key discoveries I have made over the course of the semester and the ways in which I will use these discoveries in my teaching practice.

My opinion of mathematics

Before beginning this elective, I was extremely apprehensive about the thought of “doing mathematics”. What I mean by this is that I always viewed mathematics as complicated sums and equations which needed to be solved. I saw mathematics as a stand alone subject because my teachers never made explicit links to the mathematics I was learning and other curricular areas or the wider world. Now, after researching and questioning the mathematics in everyday life – such as in sport, music, art and games – I understand that maths really is everywhere! Even though the links to everyday life and maths may not be explicit, it is evident the importance that basic mathematical principles hold in so many aspects of life. My favourite example of this is the idea of thinking strategically, which is something I have always done when playing a board game for example, but I’ve never considered this to be a mathematical skill.

My favourite discoveries

One of my favourite discoveries I made during this module is the link between mathematics and sport. I particularly enjoyed thinking about the mathematics involved in the rules of sport and then reinventing these rules, using the mathematical principles I had identified (Coventry, 2017, a). This is an example of one of the moments when I realised I was really using mathematics rather than simply doing it to solve an equation. I also liked that I could relate mathematics to a dancing – a hobby I’ve enjoyed from an early age. Never did I think I’d be able to relate a passion of mine to a subject I never thought I’d use outside school (Coventry, 2017, b).

How this will influence my teaching practice

Going forward, I am excited to use some of the experiments and examples we have used in class in my own classroom with pupils. In particular I would love them to try and make links to mathematical principles and something they are passionate about such as a sport or a game. This will show the pupils that mathematics is relevant in their lives outside school. I will also be aware of the way I teach mathematics, making sure I issue work which is meaningful and enjoyable for the pupils. A good example I could look at with an upper years class is allowing them to practice their budgeting and money handling skills whilst looking at food chain supply (Sloan, 2017). This would allow pupils to work together in teams to decide what they want to spend their money on, whilst using basic arithmetic to calculate the profit they would make. This is something I feel as though children would become very invested in as they try and beat other groups to make the most money. This could also be a challenge which could be spread across an entire term, with prices for stock changing throughout the duration of the process.

This module has really opened my eyes to the ways in which maths can be explored in wide and meaningful contexts. It has also highlighted the issue that too often people presume they cannot do maths without thinking about what they do in everyday life which is underpinned by mathematical theory and practice. It is therefore vital for me, as a teacher, to make these links explicit to children so they can develop their interest in mathematics throughout their education and beyond.

References

Coventry, J. (2017, a) Discovering Maths in Sport. [Blog] Glow. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/jceportfolio/2017/11/08/discovering-maths-in-sport/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

Coventry, J. (2017, b) Discovering Maths in Dance. [Blog] Glow. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/jceportfolio/2017/09/14/discovering-maths-in-dance/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

Sloan, A. (2017) The Apprentice Activity. [Blog] Glow. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/ahseportfolio/2017/11/16/the-apprentice-activity/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

# The Importance of Relationships

As practitioners, it is vital for us to always look wider than within a classroom environment. For us to fully comprehend why children behave and respond the way they do, we must firstly understand what triggers their behaviour (which can often stem from their home life and mental development.) Through watching Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan speak about relationships and its importance in terms of behaviour management, I now have a more in-depth understanding of the complexities of behaviour issues in a class.

One key point from these videos is that babies’ brains are extremely flexible, meaning they can cope and adapt to all types of environments. Devastatingly, many children spend the first few years of their lives in abusive, unloving homes, where they lack nurture, love and care. Unfortunately once this key pathway is established, this is usually the pathway that they carry forward into their adulthood. At this age children need consistency in their life which is why school or nursery is often their safe circle; a place they can go to receive nurturing and support.

This is why it is so important for teachers to be adaptive and supportive. We can’t always expect children to come into school and behave perfectly because if they have come from a stressful environment at home they often find it difficult to empathise and connect with people. As teachers, we need to change children’s attitudes and break down barriers so that children understand they do have someone to open up with. Teachers often do this by connecting with other agencies and people in the community who can support the individual even outwith school hours. By spending extra time developing social skills with children needing support, you might be the difference to someone acquiring these essential social skills or not. It is vital for children to feel like they are able to open up and trust you.

# Reflecting on Semester 1

After receiving my grades and feedback for my first two modules at university, I am able to reflect on my work for last semester and pick out areas for improvement.

Overall, I enjoyed the Values and Working Together modules and found that they both made me question the way in which I conduct myself as a professional. In particular, I was excited when I managed to find related reading which allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the topics we were studying within each module. However, I do believe I could have looked for more sources outwith the required reading which may have made me see things from a new or contrasting perspective.

I think this may be the reason I achieved a C1 in my Values assignment. Although the content of my assignment was good, I was not using my reading effectively to argue my points or to contrast what theorists had said. I can hopefully improve this grade in my next assignment by focusing more on one topic (rather than trying to cover a range of issues) and do more reading and research related to this topic. By going into depth on one particular issue this would have allowed me to include contrasting perspectives and to analyse them whilst giving my own opinion.

For the Working Together module I achieved a B3 overall (a B2 for my poster and a C1 for the group presentation) which I was happy with. From the feedback I received for the poster, I realised that I needed to include more of an explanation of the theories I was describing so that the marker could understand the concepts. For the group presentation, we needed to make more links with relevant theory throughout our analysis which would have provided more depth. For the next assignment or assessment I realise I must keep the marker in mind when I discuss theories, as they might not have a general understanding of them which may make it difficult for them to understand what I’m analysing or discussing.

I realise how important it is to record my progress in order for me to look back when I write my next assignment to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes. It is vital for my academic progression that I take my feedback on board and use it to improve in my next assignment or assessment.