I chose to listen to Jamie’s appearance on the Podcast as a friend and ex-colleague Peter told me that his resources were good. I wasn’t disappointed: there were lots of good ideas in on the podcast. I’ve since investigated the resources and I agree with Craig – they are consistently very high quality and contain some great ideas. Here are some of the points he made on the podcast
Teach general ideas, not specific methods
I think this is an excellent point: rather than getting pupils to follow a specific method like “finding the zeroth term”, encourage them to understand how they can find a constant term by thinking about making the sequence ‘fit’. Crucially, general ideas like this extend much more effectively to more difficult problems (in this case, non-linear sequences).
A classic idea from AfL. I bought a class set of red/amber/green cups and trialled them for about 6 months but they proved unpopular. I teach in a school where the students don’t generally lack confidence and are very mature. They said that they would rather just put their hand up and they found it a bit childish. But I’d love to make better use of them in future. Tips, anyone?
A lesson doesn’t necessarily need a plenary
I totally agree: when I’m circulating and checking individual work constantly, I agree that sometimes I’d rather just maximise the lesson time with pupils challenging themselves more individually than bring the whole class back together.
Prime Factor Buckets
A really nice visual idea – imagine the prime factorisation like a bucket of prime factors, which you draw from to find LCM or HCF as required. I wish people would share more of these kind of ideas in teaching. There are a lot of people blogging about general teaching principles, which I do find useful and interesting, but I’d love to read more blog posts sharing ideas of how to teach specific topics.
Jamie’s sounds quite bad – mine is “better” – the inverted commas are necessary because Jamie appears very happy with his. If you’re keener to have more time for life than work – I’ll write about how I achieve this soon.
I’m glad to hear that Jamie avoids using the word minus. In my younger classes, it’s a banned word and pupils can earn / lose reward points for using subtract and negative / misusing the m word!
Subject Knowledge for Teaching and Learning
Jamie talked about how he has gained this in his first few years of teaching. This is true of all teachers and I’ve heard a lot of Craig’s guests say something similar, but I think we should promote better sharing of this, so that you don’t have to pick it up through experience but can learn it from more experienced teachers. My previous school offered new teachers 2-3 hours a week of one on one meetings with a more experienced mentor within the department. I found this invaluable in my first two years and then enjoyed giving back to the process as I became a mentor myself. I suspect that this is very unusual but I wish it were more common.
I’m currently also specialise in teaching high attaining, but unlike Jamie I’m not sure I want to remain like this for my whole life. It’s a difficult point: I like teaching further maths every year and plenty of A-level, but I went to a comprehensive school myself and I’ve seen the statistics: they seem to be better for social mobility.
I had a bit of a go on the trial section of this and it looked really impressive. I’m excited to see how it develops.
Overall, it was another cracker of a podcast. Thanks Craig and Jamie.