It’s the end of the school year, I feel it’s time someone reminded us all of why teaching can be great.
1. Rightly or wrongly (see: wrongly), getting a student a C or above in maths has a much greater impact on their life than (almost) any other subject. What a fantastic enabler than is. You can directly alter (massively) the life path of a student for the better.
2. The support network for teaching maths is greater than in any other subject. There are dozens of maths conferences led by teachers sharing great practice. The internet is a hive of activity surrounding ways to teach maths.
3. Great resources have never been easier to come by. With sites like resourceaholic, Don Steward and this one, free resources are all around you. Not just any resource, but high quality resources recommended by maths teachers across the country.
4. Planning is easier than ever. Many schools are adopting the 5 minute lesson plan or similar. #mathsTLP gives you easy access to a network of teachers who literally send you specific lesson ideas and resources when you ask for them.
5. Geek is chic. With the geek billionaires popping up all over the shop, things like programming and app development are all the rage. More than ever, students are aspiring towards careers than involve a lot of maths and science. There’s a long way to go, but people who like maths are louder than they used to be.
6. Maths is trying to be maths again. There’s still a lot of pulp in the curriculum, but there’s also more emphasis on problem solving and thinking than there has been for some time.
7. Teaching what works, and not teaching how someone else idealises your lessons to look like, is finally getting recognition. Teachers are judged more on the outcomes of their students than on the general aesthetics of a single lesson. This can only be a good thing. There are frequent debates around the merits of conceptual understanding over procedural understanding, ‘modern’ teaching vs ‘traditional teaching’, rote learning, investigations and so on. These will forever continue, but what is important is that if you’re getting great results for your students, you are being acknowledged as a good teacher. Find a style that works.
8. It’s a seller’s market. It’s no secret that there is a huge shortage of maths teachers at the moment. This has some advantages. At present, ambition is likely to have a better pay off.
9. Financial incentives. I’m not convinced by financial incentives to join a profession, however with the amount of money it costs to go to University, a large sum of money to train to be a maths teacher is no bad thing.
10. You’re a teacher! Forget maths for a moment. The reasons people go into teaching will always be relevant. Every day is different. You are impacting on people’s lives. You are contributing towards a greater purpose. The seeds you sow will shape people’s futures, and their children’s futures. You’re making the world a better place. That student who got the grade that enables them to study at the college they wanted, or the student who did everything possible to get an A, and got it. The student you gave up so much time for tells you a heart-felt “thank you” on results day. These moments are frequent, and they stay with you.
Teaching is hard, but the rewards are immeasurable. It’s easy to get frustrated by the political use of education. The media aren’t nice to us very often either. Ofsted continues to carry an irrepressible fear factor; and a lot of schools still insist on a marking policy from hell. There will always be negatives. But there will always be positives too.