Top 5 challenges of being a Maths Teacher and how to overcome them


Top five challenges of being a Maths Teacher and how to overcome them

Maths provides plenty of freedom for creative teaching solutions, but the subject is not without its challenges.

As a core subject, there’s a strong emphasis on maths teachers to deliver results, although it can also be incredibly rewarding to teach. Its unique mix of theory and problem solving requires a relaxing environment in which all pupils can thrive, but many will learn at different paces. Teachers will often look to repetition to ensure understanding too, although there are plenty of solutions for them to explore.

Here we look at some of the challenges faced by maths teachers and delve into the imaginative ways that can be used to overcome them.

1. Tackling complexity with creative approaches

The maths curriculum is incredibly complex and this can make it overwhelming for both teachers and pupils alike. Maths teachers should therefore turn to creative approaches to ensure engagement with the material. By using different methodology and by mixing up the types of problems being given to pupils, it should be possible to boost knowledge retention and develop a love of maths among your class.

2. Dealing with the need for pre-requisite knowledge

Maths teaching often requires pupils to build on previous knowledge, either learnt in the weeks previous or in past academic years. If that learning is not done for any reason, it can be difficult to ensure that all of the class are at the same level. This is particularly an issue when children join a new school once the academic year has started, or among those who have moved to England from overseas. A failure to provide remediate teaching can leave a pupil in a position of always needing to catch up, although you may be able to use peer-to-peer teaching to support them. Set aside time in your lessons where you can encourage your class to talk through maths problems with their friends, as this can help to reinforce learning while helping others to catch up.

3. Know your strategies

As a maths teacher, you’ll know the importance of having an effective teaching strategy in mind, especially when there are so many different approaches out there. Your knowledge in the subject is just the starting point, as you’ll also need to ensure that pupils understand your points and the theory attached to them. Give very careful consideration to your lesson plans, and think about how elements of your teaching might be interpreted. You’ll want to make sure that all instructions are clear and provide opportunities for the development of learning.

4. Overcoming negative attitudes towards maths

Unfortunately for maths teachers, many pupils (and often their parents too) can have a negative attitude towards the subject. If you’re not careful, this can make teaching difficult as they arrive in the classroom with a view that they simply can’t do what you are asking. If you couple this with a lack of pre-requisite skills, it can make things trickier still. However, this is where creative approaches can really make a difference, from boosting engagement to showing youngsters that maths can be exciting. This is often done by relating elements of the subject to everyday life – from applying maths to sport, news stories or art and design.

5. Using technology effectively in the classroom

Like many subjects, maths teaching can really benefit from the use of technology in the classroom. But it has to be used effectively. This requires planning and you should look to attach a clear set of aims to any scenario when tech is being used. Focus on the outcomes and make sure that you’re using the best tools to help you get there. It’s important to recognise the challenges that come with using technology in the classroom too. Firstly, teachers require an appropriate level of knowledge themselves, although this can be developed via professional development courses and training. Access to technology can be an issue in certain settings too, while you’ll also want to ensure key questions around security and safeguarding are answered before getting underway.

How Tradewind Recruitment can support Secondary Teachers looking for their next role in education

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