The past week has been a bit of a battle and I feel happy to have managed to make it to the weekend. I have been finalising plans for our trip to Glasgow for the Enterprising Maths Competition. This is the first time my school has qualified for the competition and we are very excited about attending the competition.
My classes have been working on:
- S2 Percentages
- S3 Angles and Circles
- National 5 Simultaneous Equations
- Advanced Higher Second Order Non-Homogeneous Differential Equations
Task of the week
As is often the case, the tasks I find are most successful with my pupils are ones that I find on Don Steward’s website. This week was no exception. Here is the task that I set my S2 class to work on percentages without a calculator.
This set of questions allowed my pupils to see the connections between different percentages and how you can use one percentage calculation to find another. After we had explored the task above I set my pupils the challenge of creating their own percentage spiders when only given the number in the centre. I chose to do this for two reasons:
- my class is mixed ability so this allowed all pupils to work on the same task but working out different percentages
- without anymore information given, other than the central number, I wanted to see how far my pupils would push themselves
Here’s a few of pictures of their work:
Starter of the week
My S3 class were going to be solving problems involving right angled triangles in semi-circles, some of which would involve the Theorem of Pythagoras. I found this starter on Transum
It was such a great little task. We recapped the definitions of square numbers and consecutive numbers and it gave the class the chance to notice and conjecture. Whilst no-one proved the result algebraically, we did discuss it as a whole class the difference between something being true for a few cases and proving it for all numbers.
Worksheet of the week
As mentioned above my S3 class have been working with angles in circles. Part of this involves isosceles triangles formed from two radii. I looked in a few of the textbooks we have but couldn’t find a set of questions that I wanted and I didn’t fancy making my own as circle diagrams are so time consuming to draw. Then I found this one from Maths4Everyone and @Maths4Everyone on Twitter.
It was exactly what I was looking for – a few straightforward questions followed by some that involved several different angle calculations. The questions were set out clearly and uncluttered and not too many, which I have learned can be off-putting to some in my class. Once the pupils had completed the sheet they were asked to create some questions of their own that involved more than one angle calculation. This proved tricky for some but perseverance led to some brilliant questions being written.
Wobble of the week
This week I experienced a bit of a wobble. I was in two minds whether to write about but I want to be completely open about my teaching life. My wobble happened on Tuesday morning. I woke up and the thought of going to work actually made me cry. This is something that hasn’t happened to me since my probationer year back in 2005. I took the day off and spent the time sleeping and then reflecting on what caused this. I came to the conclusion that there were four main reasons:
- I’m in the middle of selling a property and buying another which has added a lot of extra stress.
- At the moment I’m not feeling like the best teacher.
- At the moment I’m not feeling like the best principal teacher.
- My workload is huge and felt unmanageable.
Why do I feel like such a poor teacher at the moment? As much as Twitter inspires me with ideas, resources, strategies and connections, it also can make me feel pretty rubbish. There are so many teachers talking about maths teaching in ways that I could never think of, designing tasks in ways that I could never think of and planning curriculum in ways that I could never think of. This is not a comment about other teachers but a reflection about my self-esteem. I see the great work of others and beat myself up that I’m not able to come up with such inspiring ideas.
Why do I feel like such a poor PT at the moment? Just like my teaching I worry about being the best PT that I can be and get anxious when I don’t feel successful. We had our attainment meeting on Monday, and despite already knowing what we need to work on as a department, hearing it said again piled on the pressure. I already have a huge list of development tasks and teaching and learning strategies I want to implement but time is not my friend. The days tick over filled with teaching, marking, administration, meetings, etc and I can’t seem to find time to devote to the development tasks and teaching and learning strategies. I should stress here that none of the pressure is coming from management, it is all me putting pressure on myself.
All of this, along with having a cold and feeling really tired, led to my little wobble. When I returned to work on Wednesday I was still feeling a bit fragile so had a nice long chat with my line manager and started to feel better and more relaxed. I think just saying it all out loud released a lot of my worries and allowed me to see things more clearly. I know I am not a poor teacher or a poor PT but sometimes the doubts creep in and take over. My note to myself is that I need to find ways to not put so much pressure on myself to be perfect.