Please read part 1 of this blog post here.
Two teachers from Treendale Primary School reflect on their progress since completing the Champions of Maths program – one year on.
Treendale Primary School
Maths was never really something that Kate enjoyed teaching. Before doing the Alcoa Champions of Maths program, she considered herself much more of a literacy person.
“I just knew I wasn’t as confident in maths. When I first started talking to Shyam, and not having that knowledge or understanding, I couldn’t really see where he was coming from,” says Kate.
But once they got going, Kate says she started to see the value in the Champions of Maths approach.
“We looked at a lot of the research behind what effective maths teaching looks like, at different orientations for teaching and what each of those entailed. We also looked at having the students understand what they’re doing, which was a big thing for our school.”
She says the most significant change in her classroom has been in the quality of discussions happening in maths, thanks to utilising the five practices for discussion that are taught in the program.
“It’s definitely more of a student-led classroom compared to in the past. I’m looking for that deep understanding, rather than the traditional approach of teachers standing up the front and expecting students to absorb what they need to learn,” she says.
“One thing that I’m a lot more conscious of now is students’ attitudes towards maths, and maybe why they experience some of the difficulty they do, or where their attitudes towards maths come from. If they don’t like maths, then why might that be?”
Kate says she can see how much of an impact the teacher’s attitude toward maths has on students. And she’s proud that she can now share her own enjoyment of the subject.
“Shyam really spurred me on. I’ve nearly finished a Graduate Certificate in Maths Leadership. A year and a half ago, I would never have thought that I would be enrolling in that!”
Treendale Primary School
Lisa was motivated to participate in the Alcoa Champions of Maths program because she wanted to find ways to get her students talking more about maths and developing the ability to explain their ideas through a deeper understanding of the subject.
“I noticed that students were very focused on being right, instead of thinking about how they knew they were right. Often, they would come up with an answer but not be able to explain how they got that, or how they knew that it was the answer,” she explained.
Lisa says using more open-ended questioning has been important in changing her teaching this year, as well as giving students the chance to talk, explaining how they solve different problems and sharing their ideas.
“I’m feeling much more confident that in my approach to maths because I’m doing the right thing in the classroom,” she says. “I have learned to put the students first instead of worrying so much about what we have to cover.”
Lisa’s school established a Maths Committee so teachers like Lisa can share the knowledge gained from the Champions of Maths program. They’re working to build a common approach and language in maths, using questioning and talk moves in every lesson to encourage students to share their ideas.
“We’re also trying to get more consistency in our school with the way that maths is taught, so that as students move from one year level to the next level they know they’re building on what they already know, and not having to learn a different way of approaching math.
“And we’re really trying to raise the profile of maths in the school and make it something that students and teachers enjoy and get excited about!”