• Article

Five activities that make maths department meetings worthwhile

What secondary teachers said they love about the regular meetings with colleagues in their department

Five activities that make maths department meetings worthwhile
  • Published: 23/03/2021
We’ve probably all been in a maths department meeting where the last thing discussed was teaching. Banter and biscuits, yes. But then timetabling discussions, organisation of sets, ordering textbooks, analysing data. The list goes on, and the time gets eaten up. Meetings end with participants asking themselves: When are we going to do some maths together?

Well, it doesn’t have to be like that, as the record of one of our recent Twitter CPD chats proved. During the hour-long discussion, hosted by David Helsby, head of maths and computing at Didsbury High School, teachers from numerous different schools shared how maths, and talking about the teaching of maths, has become a rich and valued component of departmental meetings. Here are five activities discussed in the chat, and some of the tweets posted extolling the benefits of department meetings in general.

1. Send a maths question round to colleagues before the meeting. At the meeting, each teacher, in turn, demonstrates how they answered it.

2. Spend the time collectively designing multiple choice questions, with a focus on how carefully-constructed wrong answers can shine light on misconceptions.

3. Look at an exam question from a GCSE paper and discuss how it impacts on teaching in KS3.

4. Discuss the teaching of a particular topic, or the introduction of a new concept, and agree—across the department—the exact language that will be used by all teachers.

5. Choose a question where the method isn’t obvious (a problem-solving question) and compare notes on how it could be tackled.

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