Monday, June 16, 2008

Lack of motivation

I can't recall whether I have used that title before, but today I was disappointed to find that there exists no year 10 set 1 maths students who enjoys maths. Not one person in the class had the "buzz" whilst doing the work. That was very sad to see. Inside that class I do see people who are very good at maths, but they are stuck in one position.

What I don't understand is why they had to make GCSEs modular. These year 10s have already sat some GCSE maths exams, which is a shame. In the same way my English developed in year 11, some students mature mathematically in year 11; but by then it is too late. After year 10 and the stress of their GCSEs they lose whatever interest they had in maths. That's the impression these students are giving me.

I aim to change this, and exactly how will be decided in the next two days. I have been busy googling today, and have devised a strategy. Although I have another two weeks left at this placement, I am sure that I could stay on for another week as a volunteer if need be. At this moment in time I am very annoyed that I'm doing the donkey work and making worksheets. That isn't really donkey work, but they didn't want to do it themselves, and passed it on to me. (They are not very good at hiding their gleeful smiles when they see me "pretending" to make the questions). I know that it would be more worthwhile if I tried to inject some life into the attitude towards maths in the school. I'm going to run a few ideas that occured to me past the maths teachers, namely to create a maths club.

The structure of this group doesn't exist in my head, but the group works. I know that there are students who enjoy maths in that school, and this group is for them. I feel it will be a bit like our work shop groups, with an element of group work and presentation too. It is a little late in the year, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

Honestly speaking, I'm not surprised why certain students won't like maths. I believe all teachers are role models, and they should be aware of this. I am a product of such role models, and I can honestly say that if my maths teacher at school had spoken negatively about something, I probably would have eventually done the same. This is what makes teachers so special--more so than what they teach at times. The future generations need someone positive they can aspire to be like.

What say you about the following then: I was talking to a group of five students about maths and its creativity, where only one student really enjoyed maths. A teacher came walking up to us shouting "loser loser" and making the "L" shape in my face. I was shocked to say the least. The four students not liking maths were also encouraged and then began saying the same. I ignored the teacher and finished my point (about Harry Potter!) but the teacher continued with "maths is for losers". I let her be and then told the interested student to get used to it, as the other students were actually over the moon now too. Yes, I sounded like a boring old git whilst trying to "show them the light", but if you work with students in a positive manner, you can achieve many things.

As I reflect on that teachers behaviour I notice a few things. She wants to be seen "cool" by the kids. She gives any subject but hers a negative attitude. She's a new teacher--24 years old.

Sadly this teacher has many students in awe of her. They find her cool since she's "one of them", you know. Yes, she's an OK person and nice (apart from when she told me to shut up). She thinks the way she behaves is funny and a joke (or maybe she doesn't know about her actions); she likes the students perception of her. Perhaps she doesn't understand the power in her hand which she is abusing. OK I am a little angry at her, for I found it blimmin' rude when she said "Oi--you just shut up" to me, when I was talking to another teacher in the staff room (in front of everyone too)! My problem is that I don't think I'll shut up. I will be polite to her, but since she doesn't behave in a professional manner I'm not going to be bullied by her childish antics.

I know... I might be overreacting slightly but this is not the first time. We had CPD last week and she sat behind me, and you wouldn't believe what she did! She kept on kicking my chair like a year 8 kid. These 13 year old kids have a 13 year old role model, which is not a very good thing. No wonder they don't blimmin like maths. I won't be rude to her, but she's only 4 years older than me and I'm afraid she hasn't earnt my respect yet.

Eccentric teachers are great. Teachers who have a passion for their subject and teaching are brilliant. However, the final ingredient to greatness has to be respect. Respecting the students, the environment and your fellow colleagues. (Being professional too I suppose, could be another thing).

I am disheartened by this indeed, because of the sheer quantity of students who adore this teacher, and she goes around calling people who like learning losers!

Back to my other lessons today. I'm finally in the maths department and to "do the resource sheets" (PFFT) I have been given free lesson. It suffices to say that I didn't do anything during my frees, but talk to other members of staff and drink tea. HA. I'm definitely going to try and worm my way out of it, but I doubt it'll be successful. (The University person told us to be "proactive", but come on, I can be proactive by organising a mathematical revolution; the students will like that too!)

Year seven set 3 was very difficult. Some didn't know how to multiply 47 x 4, and I told them how to do it my way until I realised they do some grid thing. (My way being the old fashion way, which I have not the energy to insert using LaTeX). There are some students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in this class, and I spent most of the lesson with them. I told them to try and complete the remaining questions for tomorrow, and see me at break if they did. I hope they have done them... One didn't know the multiplication tables which made life hard, but we made progress I hope. (We'll find out at break time tomorrow!) I feel a real desire to help these students, and an equal desire to push those at the other end. Some people don't agree with this.

Final lesson was year 9s--the class who made my first day hell. My shoulders slumped automatically--I don't know what came over me! I just sat at the table quietly, wondering what it would look like if I was to leg it out of the class, demanding the teacher to change my timetable! The beginning of the lesson was an "I want my Mummy" moment for me, but once they got working and actually needed my support it became better. (Well then they had to say "please can you help me" as opposed to "you know that teacher over there blah blah ..." which they didn't pretend to whisper.)

Sigh. I am physically shattered today, and my back is spelling trouble for me. The day was OK overall, as more of the students are actually talking to me now! Well some gits(!) still laugh at me, but I don't care if its behind my back. To my face I have to be careful about what I reply with you see... pft. Well can you blame the kids with a "loser loser" teacher? ;)

I still need to think of a starter too. Humbug.

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