Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

Discovering Mathematics- Reflection

At the very beginning of the Discovering Mathematics module I was quite anxious about maths as a whole however I had the intentions of getting the most out of the module and hopefully changing my attitude towards maths going forward in my teaching career. This module has definitely changed my outlook on the subject and my learning will without a doubt support me in the teaching and learning of mathematics in the future.

When first introduced to Liping Ma’s four key elements of profound mathematics in the very first input I must admit that I didn’t quite understand how these elements actually fitted in with the everyday mathematics we teach in our primary classrooms.

Now, at the end of the module I can safely say that I have a much deeper understanding of the four elements of (inter)connectedness, multiple perspectives, basic principles and longitudinal coherence and just how they will support me in the future. Ma (2010) states that:

“PUFM is more than a sound conceptual understanding of elementary mathematics- it is the awareness of the conceptual structure and basic attitudes of mathematics inherent in elementary mathematics and the ability to provide a foundation for that conceptual structure and instil those basic attitudes in students” (Liping Ma, 2010, page 106)

Ma also speaks about the depth, breadth and thoroughness of understanding that an individual with PUFM will have. They will be able to make links between individual pieces of mathematical knowledge and understand the connections between them.

Therefore, it is vital that we, as prospective teachers, are aware of PUFM and gain the confidence and competence needed in order to teach our future pupils mathematics in a way in which will benefit them in the future.

I would say that this module has helped me tackle the insecurities I had about teaching maths and going forward I feel as though I am much more comfortable with the prospect of teaching maths in the future. The module has really opened my eyes as to just how much mathematics plays a part in society around us each and every day. I will take forward this knowledge and use it in a classroom environment in the future as I feel that by linking maths to other areas of society, it makes it a more accessible subject for all and perhaps will engage those children who suffer from the ongoing issue of maths anxiety.



Ma, Liping. (2010) Knowing and Teaching elementary mathematics: teachers’ understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States New York:

Maths Anxiety

Throughout my school life I had always just accepted that I was more talented in the area of languages than I was in maths. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do maths, it was simply that I felt more confident and comfortable in other school subjects.

The above is one of the reasons why I jumped at the opportunity to study the Discovering Mathematics module when it was offered as one of the second year electives. Already, I can see the positive impact that my learning from this module will have in my future career. I know that in order to teach maths and make the children in my class feel at ease with the subject then I must be confident in my own abilities and approach maths in a very open-minded way.

The Guardian article “Maths Anxiety: The Numbers are Mounting” spoke of a particular example of maths anxiety. A young girl called Flora had significant difficulties with anything related to maths however her struggles seemed to go unnoticed at school. Shortly after moving to a new school, Flora’s difficulties were noticed by her teachers and suspected that she may have dyscalculia which is a kind of dyslexia with numbers as her maths was observed to be very poor. After referral to an educational psychologist however, it was found that Flora’s problems were not down to ability but actually down to her anxiety towards maths as a subject.

Maths anxiety is extremely common and is said to affect around a quarter of the population which equates to more than 2 million school children in England alone, along with thousands of teachers.

The concept of maths anxiety was first discovered in the 1950s, however the significant effect it has on performance has only newly become evident.

A study which is also explained in The Guardian article previously mentioned above was conducted to look further into the reasons why anxiety towards mathematics affects performance in such a devastating way. Researchers at Stanford University have used scans in order to see what goes on inside the brains of children who suffer from maths anxiety, and discovered that these children respond to sums in the same way that people with phobias may reacts to snakes or spiders which increases activities in the fear centres of the brain. Increased activity in these areas causes a decrease in activity in the areas of the brain which assist problem solving which then makes it harder for the individual to come up with the correct answers.

Although maths anxiety is extremely common in today’s society, there are still no formally established diagnostic tests to decide when simply being worried about maths becomes maths anxiety. Mike Ellicock, chief executive of the charity National Numeracy states “labelling and categorising children into those who can and can’t do maths isn’t helpful. There is nothing more certain to be a self-fulfilling prophecy… but given encouragement and the right support, everyone can meet a functional level of numeracy.” This statement shows that by simply accepting that some children will cope well with maths while others will struggle, we are doing nothing for the children. If we, as teachers, encourage and support the children who have insecurities in the area of mathematics then we can help them to strive to be an individual with simple maths skills which will help them as they go forward in life. Even if these children never go onto study complex maths, by simply assisting them to go forward and use essential maths skills such as money handling or telling the time, then we have made a real difference to their life.

The above video describes some of the reasons why people get so anxious about maths. The video mentions that anxiety is more prominent in maths than it is in other subjects. There is no exact answer as to why this is however studies have suggested that the way children are exposed to maths by their parents and teachers has a major effect on how the children view maths. If parents talk about maths as something unfamiliar and challenging then the children will also adopt this view. Teachers with maths anxiety are also more likely to pass it on to the children in their class.

Both the above video and an article from The Guardian “The Fear of All Sums: How teachers can help students with maths anxiety” highlight some of the ways in which teachers can help children feel at ease with maths and encourage and support them to be successful in the subject. It is vital to give children the time and space they need to tackle a maths problem as if they are under pressure to complete something under a given time scale then this adds to the stress and will give the child a negative experience of mathematics. It is also important to go slow, beginning with the basics of a topic then slowly progressing in order to make the increasing difficulty less daunting for the learner. It is vital to make lessons fun, playing maths games is a great way to practice maths skills without the pressure of the need to get the right answer in order to get a good mark, this allows the learner to relax and enjoy their experience. The use of positive language is a great way of reassuring learners that they are doing a great job, using praise in front of their peers or parents is also a great way to boost children’s confidence.

Overall, I now feel that I will be able to approach maths in the classroom in a more confident manner as the teacher. I now know the techniques to put in place and the best possible way to approach the teaching of maths to those children who suffer from maths anxiety in order to give them the best possible chance at success in their maths studies.



Brian, K. (2012) “Maths anxiety: the numbers are mounting”, The Guardian, 30 April, no page given.

Chandran, P. (2015) “The fear of all sums: how teachers can help students with maths anxiety”, The Guardian, 17 November, no page given.

Reflective Practice

we-do-not-learn-fromThe SPR section 3.4.2 emphasises the importance of reflection and the part in which it plays on professional development, I am now more aware of how important reflection will be both in my professional practice and in my teaching career.

Reflecting on semester 1, one of the most important moments of my professional development was the process of working collaboratively across the professions in the Working Together Module.

Although I have worked in groups throughout my time at school, the experience of working collaboratively across three different professions was a new concept to me however I feel as though the whole experience was a key moment in my professional development.

Throughout my collaborative practice I learned more about the three different professions and the skills and attributes each professions bring to work collaboratively, I also learned more about group working and the skills and qualities needed to work effectively in a group towards a common shared goal. This experience was a key moment in my professional development as I now feel as though I am more informed on collaborative working and this will allow me to confidently work with others both when I am on placement and in my future work. I also feel that by working with others in a school setting I will further develop my knowledge and understanding of collaborative working and gain more experience in working with others.

Following todays input on reflective practice, the process of reflection is now something I am much more aware of and conscious about. I now have a brief understanding of theorists such as Dewey and Schon and will now read more into these theorists and their ways of thinking in order to prepare myself to effectively reflect on my practice when I am on my placement.

The process of reflection now has much more of a meaning to me, I know what the characteristics of a good reflection are and how to reflect on a lesson. I feel as though the knowledge I have gained about the process of reflection will aid me in effectively reflecting whilst out on my professional practice, by considering what went well and what could be improved, considering why things may not have gone the way I had intended them to and also linking my reflection to my goals with reference to literature.

Overall, reflection is vital in my own professional development and I will continue to further my understanding of the process by reading to ensure that I can effectively reflect on my own lessons and practice in the future.

Why teaching?

Ever since I was extremely young I had always imagined that I would follow in my mum’s footsteps and become a nurse, it was something I always really liked the sound of but never actually considered the ins and outs of. It was on the occasion that my dance teacher asked me if I would consider helping out at dance classes for younger children that I realised that teaching was the career that was truly right for me.

Through a combination of helping at these dance classes and completing my school work experience in an additional support needs classroom in a primary school I was made aware of how truly rewarding a career in teaching can be and how much of an influence teachers have on the lives of the young people they come into contact with. I feel that watching children develop and learn is the most satisfying and rewarding experience and these feelings would be constant if I were to become a teacher.

I was certain that teaching was for me by around my third or fourth year at high school so as soon as we were prompted to begin our university applications I had everything clearly planned out in my head. Throughout my sixth and final year at school I visited my old primary school once a week for work experience which again reinforced the whole sense of satisfaction and the great feeling of reward that comes with the job. I also came into contact with my old primary school teacher throughout this work experience at which she said to me “I always imagined you becoming a teacher”, which was such a good thing to hear, knowing that others thought it was the right thing for me filled me with great confidence in going forward.

Now that I am at university the whole dream of becoming a teacher is starting to feel very real and I am extremely excited to learn lots of new things that will help me both in my placements and when I become a teacher. I am also looking forward to be out in schools learning from the teachers and also getting a real feel of the teaching experience and all the great things that it brings with it!