Teacher shortage: Is TV to blame?

Decisions decisions…tonight at 9pm I could watch ITV and a programme about private v state or I could turn over to C4 and watch the latest edition of Educating; this time they’ve chosen Cardiff. 

Three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to watch a programme about my job but we have had many instalments since and I can’t help that think it is putting people off. 

Conversations that I have have changed dramatically since these programmes aired and more and more people are asking, “how on earth do you do your job?” Don’t get me wrong, I was asked this before but with more people getting a greater insight into schools, it is now asked more frequently.

Watching them myself, I sometimes question my job as I would be put off but I know different. Yes, we all have rubbish days/weeks but they are outweighed by the good times. Those small moments where a student suddenly ‘gets it’ or a little thank you from the unexpected pupil. I know that all of the teachers on the shows also say the same as me but it is hard to listen to when you see the fights or the lack of respect that we can face everyday.

Why would you want to go into a job where you face so much pressure, have to put up with so much, face teenage emotions on a daily basis, etc? We all do it because we love it but would we have made the same decisions if we would have seen these programmes before we trained?


Chinese School: What I Have Learned

So, Chinese School entered it’s second week and it was even more shocking than the previous week. No, not the teaching of the behaviour but the total disrespect of the headteacher. I was appalled by the way he spoke about the lesson that he observed and the fact that he was clearly oblivious to the way his students were behaving. I am sure that they behave well in ‘normal’ lessons but this behaviour does not come out of the blue; it is obviously the way these pupils behave without any boundaries and I think that stems from parenting (no, it is not our job whoever that parent moaning was…they are YOUR children). I am not saying that the students all have bad parents and I am fully aware that many are swayed by the crowd but basic manners and respect should be taught from a young age. As teachers, we have enough on our plate with lesson plans, marking, teaching a full curriculum, Osted, etc to concentrate on teaching manners. Discipline, unfortunately, is also a huge part of our job which the Chinese teachers have never had to deal with. They are completely right with their attitude to education but unfortunately, that is not the case for many in England and perhaps they are right and it is down to the benefits system but that is beyond our control. All we can do is try the best that we can to teach the students that we have in front of us which was evidenced in the heartfelt speeches at ‘parents evening’.

In my opinion, I do not think that either method is the right method but in fact we can take good points from both methods of teaching. I would hate for my students to all sit in silence all of the time. I like them to ask questions and I like investigation lessons too but there are times when students simply need to listen and practice, especially in maths. 

We will see what next week brings but for now, A and AS-level results tomorrow. Good luck to anyone collecting results and to the teachers who worked hard as well.

Edexcel Maths Paper 1

Sooooo, that was an interesting paper! Obviously I’m talking about the higher tier. I opened the paper to be faced by a stem-and-leaf question and I beamed. Yes, my year 11 class would be ok but as the paper went on, my mood was diminished. Some of the questions I simply stared at, not believing what I was seeing. Looking back at it later, the first 30ish marks are pretty straightforward so perhaps there is still hope. Fingers crossed. I think this paper is a sign of things to come. It was much more functional than past papers.

The foundation was a delight but that made me think that the grade boundaries would be high.

We have prepped what we need to teach tomorrow and at Saturday school and hopefully, we have chosen the right topics.

Good luck to everyone else taking their GCSE exam, and to all the teachers who I’m sure, like me, are nearly burnt out.

Maths Takeaway Homework

I have looked at this concept for a while but always put it off due to not having enough time (I’m sure all teachers will understand) so I did what all good teachers do and resorted to Google. I have found some excellent examples on TES which have inspired me to make my own. I think it was making the template that was putting me off. I am looking forward to using them with my classes but am going to wait until the new academic year. I was wondering if any of you had used them and if so, you could tell me how it went? What worked? What didn’t? Did the students prefer it? Did certain things work for different abilities? Any advice welcome.

Half Term

So half term is over and here I am on a Sunday night planning away. Every holiday I tell myself that I am going to get my work out of the way straight away but I never do, even after 7 years. Oops!

Half term has been amazing especially as I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but most of all, I got some much needed rest. I know that it will not be enough but only 7 weeks to go.

The next 7 weeks should get easier as the term goes on. GCSE Maths exams are over within the first two weeks and then A Level not long after. Following that, I will be visiting year 5 students in a local primary school, teaching the more able students. I did this in my previous school and loved every minute of it. It made me consider switching to primary teaching but I obviously never carried it out. I wonder what the differences are. I know at secondary level we think that we have it much worse with the importance of exams, etc but I’m not so sure. Primary schools have to deal with all of the basics that we hope are sorted by the time they reach us. Having said that, this week I am going to be teaching my year 8 class how to tell the time. Many of the students have requested this over the course of the year as they cannot read the time from a clock. This appalled me but I have since realised that they only ever see the time in digital format so would never had to learn.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Ofqual Report

I have had a good read of the Ofqual report and all I can say is phew! We are so glad that we did not jump to AQA!

However, I do need to ask why they needed to carry out tests and waste money to tell us exactly what all maths teachers knew. We looked at the specimen papers, immediately saying that Edexcel was hard and AQA was easy. Isn’t this exactly what Ofqual have now written? Maths teachers up and down the country could have told you that months ago. Ofqual can offer me £50,000 a year and I can carry out these ‘inspections’ for them.

We have now decided to stick with Edexcel but it worries me that we are teaching this from September without everything being sorted. I know that it is part of our job and as teachers, we cope but this is children’s education that we are playing with. Ofqual should have got it right the first time, not on the second or third attempt.

Here I Am

Let’s start by telling you a little bit about me. I am 27 and have been teaching Maths in secondary schools for the past 7 years. I am also an avid sports fan, which no doubt you will learn reading my posts. I decided to start this blog as I often read others and wanted to share my opinions.

So, we are nearing the end of half term and I have to say that I am absolutely exhausted. My Year 12 students have sat two of their exams with Statistics coming after half term. Year 11 still have both to go which is very stressful and Year 13 have all three to go after the break. It has been a hectic half term with extra revision sessions, boosters, mock examinations and a visit from our Academy sponsor where I got observed with my year 8 class.

Next half term won’t be any easier. As I already mentioned, year 11, 12 and 13 still have examinations to go and then I have the pleasure of writing a new scheme of work for the new spec GCSE. Alongside this, the bit I’m most looking forward to, I get to go into some primary schools and teach their more able students in year 5. I did this for a year in my previous school and it was great. The students were so enthusiastic and willing, something which is often missing at secondary school so it makes me wonder, where does it go? Is it something that we do that turns them off maths? Is it the lack of investigational work? If you have any ideas, please let me know.