Being a great primary maths teacher is a very different challenge from being a great maths teacher at secondary school.
You’re the one who can set the attitudes of a pupil for or against maths, and, like it or not, you’ll also encounter many pupils whose reaction to maths has been set by their parents who may not remember their own study of maths with enthusiasm.
However, a great primary Maths teacher has the power to change this poor image of the subject by bringing passion, dedication and curiosity into their teaching.
According to Ofsted (2015), outstanding teacher attributes include demonstrating deep knowledge and understanding of their subject, addressing misconceptions, managing behaviour effectively, setting challenging homework and having high expectations of their pupils. These traits may well help a teacher understand what tasks to include in their daily lessons, but the suggestions include little insight on the more personal traits that are needed to become a successful Maths teacher.
We have shared 3 traits to develop in order to further engage your pupils and create confident learners, while becoming an even better Maths teacher than you already are.
1. A great Maths teacher has empathy
Understanding the way your pupils learn is crucial to improving their success. It is key that you are empathetic towards their needs and help nurture a love of Maths in anyway you can.
Ellie McCann, one of our Maths teachers in house who previously taught at Ark Globe Academy in Southwark, has great advice, suggests that “each child learns in a different way and you must be able to adapt your teaching methods to reflect this diversity within your classroom”.
For some children this will mean breaking concepts down into their smallest steps, for other’s it may be just about remembering to tell a joke every now and then!
Ellie’s also got some great tips around how pupils of different abilities can be taught to memorise number facts
2. A great Maths teacher will be a Maths specialist
A successful Maths teacher will have an extensive knowledge of Mathematics, allowing confident learning to take place. This knowledge will allow for focused teaching, rather than time spent looking through textbooks for solutions.
A Maths specialist knows where a child is most likely to have misconceptions and/or make mistakes. A Maths specialist also understands what to do about it and how to explain tricky concepts in a more effective and engaging way.
This is how they are able to support children on their journey to maths mastery and deep conceptual knowledge.
At Third Space Learning, we employ over 200 Maths specialists, who are top graduates and have been specifically trained in one-to-one, Maths online intervention. They are selected through a rigorous recruitment process, including both an Initial Tutor Training (ITT) and a fortnightly CPD all year round.
Looking to improve your own maths teaching?
3. A great Maths teacher is a leader
In the classroom, a talented Maths teacher will not take an authoritarian approach by saying “because I said so”. Instead, you should be seen as a facilitator of learning, providing pupils with the tools they need to succeed. Your pupils should see you as a leader, within the classroom and larger school community.
Why not run an after school club? Or get involved in your school’s morning routine? Volunteering your time and taking part in various activities that your pupils are a part of will ensure you are seen as a prominent figure within your school.
Any Mathematics professional (teacher, deputy or head) has the ability to inspire pupils to embrace Mathematics as a lifelong skill that they never stop developing. It is through your approach and attitude that you can provide inspiration and nurture a love of Maths in your pupils’ for the rest of their lives.
These are our top 3 features of a great primary maths teacher. Do you agree or disagree? Talk to us on Twitter to share your thoughts! Or just book a demo of our maths intervention to find out how we aim for great maths teaching!