The day after World Teacher’s day seems like a great opportunity to reflect on why it is I teach or more importantly, I feel, what it is that makes me want to excel every day.
I did not go to University with the goal of teaching in mind; sure it was an option but it certainly was not decided until way into my final year. I had coached sport for a few years beforehand and had worked with younger children in this capacity (never in a formal school environment). I loved sports coaching because everyone can play. No matter what level or what sport you coach, every single person can succeed. For me, this mindset is crucial to enjoying the job. It is also the reason why I believe everyone can coach. Nobody can, hand on heart, say they do not enjoy seeing someone succeed at something. This is particularly the case if it is in something that person has never succeeded in before.
Over the first 14 months of my teaching career, I have come to the realisation this is also how I see teaching maths. Everyone can do maths! Yes, I did just write that. Everyone can succeed and it is superb to see people triumph in something I am so passionate about. I love seeing success and there is such an opportunity for this every single day in the maths classroom. I really enjoy maths but I would not say I love it, yet. I definitely love teaching maths and I love helping others in a subject that offers so many routes in to the same end goal.
Secondly, maths comes with a lot of baggage by the time we see them at 14. They have usually ‘decided’ whether they are good or bad/like or dislike/ it is fun or not fun. They usually have an opinion on the curriculum and whether or not what they are doing is useful. I love the idea that someone comes in at 13 saying “I can’t do maths” and leaves a maths classroom feeling like they can. I am not trying to get everyone to love the subject but I passionately believe we can show children how they can indeed ‘do maths’. Once a pupil feels success, they realise how fantastic this is and want more. The process becomes organic but they must achieve a victory first.
It is true that maths is everywhere but we, as educators, take that view for granted sometimes. The real beauty in this job is showing each and every person they can also see maths somewhere in their life.