Welcome to February! I hope as you read this blog you are breathing in some fantastically fresh February air, the breeze refreshing your bones and washing out the January cobwebs from your mind.
One of our brilliant values at Action Tutoring is ‘reflective’ and this blog aims to explore the importance of reflecting upon our own learning experiences. What teacher made getting out of bed for a 9am English lesson on a Monday morning worth it? What mathematical explanation made you realise it wasn’t hard as you thought, and that you could do it? No matter how long, or how little, it has been since you attended school, casting your mind back is always worth it. It helps us learn and grow, plus it works our brains like a muscle (well, that’s my exercise done for the day…). Most importantly, you may find the key to motivating your pupils; it could be a diagram that your teacher drew many years ago, yet it still gives you a ‘lightbulb moment’, or the silly symbols your tutor made you put next to your linguistic devices (all Liverpool pupils will be used to drawing a tomato to code a metaphor, but maybe more on this in a later blog).
Here, an Action Tutoring maths tutor from Liverpool, reflects upon his favourite teacher, and why she was so fantastic:
“Despite having a passion for both English and maths, maths was certainly my favourite subject at GCSE level. My maths teacher, Miss Turner, filled our lessons with more than just learning and it has stuck with me ever since.
It began at the start of the lesson. Before we’d even taken our coats off, there was a game of ‘countdown numbers’ up on the SMART board. Through the collective four years I was taught by Miss Turner, that game honed and perfected the arithmetic of the whole class. Emphasis was on quick calculations, thinking outside the box, and manipulating the numbers in front of you to try and get that three-digit result – all in under thirty seconds.
You felt very personally included in Miss Turner’s maths classes. She asked you how you were doing in other subjects, and she remembered pupils’ individual progress from previous maths lessons without having to refer to a register. You could feel the authentic enthusiasm and passion Miss Turner had for maths and for teaching it, and you absorbed more and more of that passion with each lesson that passed.
By the time that GCSE examinations rolled around, I felt confident and prepared. Equally, the exams also felt very personal to us. Our results reflected our learning, but it was also a reflection of the level of teaching we had received. Everybody went into those examinations ready and wanting to do Miss Turner proud, and ultimately, we came out with some of the best results our school had seen in over a decade.
It was the perfect example to me of how important rapport is when it comes to learning or being taught. I’m grateful to Miss Turner each day that I use mental arithmetic, or quick percentage calculations, and especially when I beat the TV contestants on Countdown numbers! She was my favourite teacher, and I’m confident that each of my peers would say the same too.
– Sam Alexander, maths tutor
Whether it be the questions they asked, the energy they provided, or the care and passion you felt from your teacher, remember to bring some of ‘that’ (whatever ‘that’ is) in to your sessions. Your teachers and tutors made you remember that subject for a reason. Do the same for your pupils and show them the links between learning, enjoying and understanding.
(Hannah O’Neill, Programme Coordinator for Liverpool and Sam Alexander, GCSE maths tutor.)