S1 & S4: Maths

I was observing my new mentor, the maths lead, for the first time. She was introducing the Y3 class to fractions as the new maths unit. The purpose of the lesson was for me to observe the structure, range and variety of activities, as the teacher uses a format I am unfamiliar with.

Initially, to check prior knowledge, a visual of a chocolate bar dividing into unequal parts was displayed. The teacher used explicit language – quarter, third, equal , waiting for SOMEONE to interrupt and say this was not the case.

The teacher said ‘I can cut things into pieces but they have to be equal, or it’s not fair’.

For the remainder of the session the teacher referred back to the key word ‘equal, or it’s not fair’, constantly reiterating ‘equal’.

She referred to the denominator as a ‘killer robot’ , cutting the whole into equal pieces.

Throughout the lesson, she used a teasing, coaxing style; daring to challenge the children to argue with the ‘goddess of maths’. The children responded positively, determined to prove her wrong.

Observing the teacher in this way, proved enlightening for me. The lesson I had originally planned was slow and lacked the challenge the children are used to which is why I wished to observe the teacher to familiarise myself with her teaching format.

Throughout the lesson, the teacher did not slow down her pace (S1 consistently modelling and effectively demonstrating positive attitudes, values and behaviours which are expected of pupils). High expectations for learning were evident and the children responded eagerly.

She involved me in the learning also, encouraging debate and questions about activities.

This experience has impacted on my practice immensely. Previously, I had used teaching sequences, similar to my mentors, as their classes were familiar with these.

It wasn’t until I sat with my new mentor and she talked me through her teaching format – the steps she took, the activities she planned and why, as we planned my sessions- that I began to understand and really appreciate the sequence of teaching, the techniques she uses and the reasoning for the pace.

As she talked me through it, it was like she was telling me a story of how she was teaching the small steps of fractions. The sequence made more sense to me as the different steps were connected and cohesive (S4 effectively promotes a love of learning and children’s’ intellectual curiosity)

For my next lesson, I used her guidance to plan in a similar way with plenty of activities throughout to keep the pace (S4 is systematically able to reflect, in order to improve practice)

Focused next steps:

Continue to reflect on practice and consult with colleagues to gain specialist support

Use a range of strategies to establish a safe and secure environment which is stimulating and rooted in mutual respect (S1)