Maths in the Staff Room – Short Professional Development Meetings
Maths in the Staff Room provides suggestions and resources for a professional development meeting for teachers, which can be led by the maths subject leader or another person with responsibility for developing mathematics teaching and learning in the school. You can find previous features in this series here
Organising Mathematical Learning
In Issue 73 we provided a meeting to review the effectiveness of teaching mathematics in relation to the two recent reports on effective pedagogy and teaching:
This meeting follows on from that first reflection and provides a more in depth understanding of how a group of teachers might address any areas of weakness from the audit carried out. In this issue we explore organising mathematical learning.
- Review current characteristics of classroom organisation in maths lessons
- Identify changes in practice that might develop improved pupil outcomes.
Prior to the meeting it would be helpful for the subject leader to visit some maths lessons informally, to focus on observing the structural organisation in classrooms for mathematical learning.
Observation should focus on:
- preparation for the lesson
- organisation of pupils – including transitions within/between classes
- choice of equipment
- choice of tasks
- use of time.
1.0 Share the aim of the session
2.0 Start by sharing outcomes of classroom observations – without naming teachers or classes specifically – by presenting evidence for the above five focuses
3.0 Share this quote from the EPPSE report to begin considering research evidence for high quality classroom organisation
“Teachers in excellent schools gave a great deal of thought to the resources they used. These were prepared ahead of time, well managed during lessons, were particularly fit for purpose and tailored to the individual needs of their pupils. These teachers also made productive use of instructional time by maintaining good pace and by ensuring that every second of their lessons counted. Pupils in these classes had the highest ratings of self-reliance.”
p18, Exploring Effective Pedagogy in Primary Schools: Evidence from Research
4.0 Explore this quotation through the following questions:
4.1 How are resources chosen for your lessons?
Some answers might be…
- search on the internet first
- refer to the maths scheme
- look at last year’s planning
- identify the learning objective and consider the resources that are required to support the steps in learning.
Consider the risks and benefits of each of the responses. For example a risk of downloading from the internet may not provide sufficient quality assurance, consistency in presentation from previous teaching/learning, or match with the school’s calculation policy.
The use of resources may also identify that some teachers are unable to access resources that they need for teaching – e.g. concrete materials - or when there are insufficient resources for all the pupils to use them in a meaningful way.
Resources chosen by the teacher may also be limited by their confidence to use the resources. E.g. Cuisenaire or Dienes apparatus may be in cupboards, but rarely chosen because the teacher requires support to use them effectively.
Identify any action points for the selection of resources.
4.2 What routines do you have to enable you to maximise learning time?
Routines can help minimise time taken up for organisational aspects of a lesson. If children are familiar with a routine then they are likely to settle into their learning more quickly and understand what is expected of them in each lesson to be ‘ready for learning’.
Some answers might be…
- pupils sit in the same seats each time
- maths books are put out on tables before the lesson for children to look at for feedback from marking
- a maths puzzle or problem related to the lesson is shown while pupils are settling
- teacher uses a suite of familiar games/activities that can be adapted for different objectives so rules do not need to be taught each time. E.g. matching pairs, bingo, 4 in a row/grid games
- pupils know to stick or write learning intention/success criteria into books at the beginning of lesson
- equipment is prepared for each table so that learning can begin immediately
- pupils are confident to organise themselves
Identify any action points for maximising use of time.
5.0 Review the action points identified and then ask teachers to set themselves an individual target to change in their classroom and share what they hope to do and will hope to see an improvement in their maths lessons. This could then be used as a subsequent focus for further observations.