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8 skills every great maths teacher needs

Teaching maths is one of the most fulfilling jobs of a primary school teacher, but there are a few skills needed to be a great maths teacher. Basic maths skills are used throughout our lifetimes. Every day we compute sums, whether it’s the difference between the cost of a book on Amazon vs Ebay, or making a judgement on the space needed to parallel park, we rely on the skills we learn in maths all the time.

Which is why it is so important for teachers of mathematics to hone their skills in the teaching of the subject. Our list of skills that make a great maths teacher is a great place to start!

 

8 skills needed to be a maths teacher

  1. Maths subject knowledge
  2. Passion for the subject
  3. A lifelong learner
  4. Patience
  5. A problem solver
  6. Communication
  7. Modelling
  8. Humour

 

1. Maths subject knowledge

This might seem obvious, but especially for trainee teachers and NQTs, this skill can be easier said than done. To be an effective teacher of maths, it helps to be several steps ahead of your class in mathematical knowledge. Further than a few steps in fact, but at primary level, no one is expecting you to have a doctorate in mathematics.

A good subject knowledge not only helps calm any worries you might have about teaching the subject, it also helps to build trust with your class. Don’t worry, it’s okay not to know the answer to everything. Being honest with your class and admitting that you don’t know every now and again, help to teach them that you can and should still learn as an adult.

 

2. Passion for the subject

Passion is contagious and if you show passion for maths, your pupils are likely to follow suit. Of course, there will be some pupils who dislike maths, but if you show joy and enthusiasm for the subject, they’re much more likely to enjoy the lessons.

All the world’s a stage when it comes to teaching. Maths might not be your favourite, or you might be having a bad day, but it’s possible to fake it until you make it. Make your maths lessons enjoyable for you as well as the children and passion for the subject will follow.

 

3. A lifelong learner

If you commit yourself to being a lifelong learner, you can be successful in teaching any subject. It doesn’t matter if you do have a doctorate in maths, the methods of teaching maths are constantly changing and research in effective teaching is constantly revolutionising what happens in the classroom.

Keeping on top of your continuous professional development and committing yourself to always learning about the subjects you teach, including maths, will help to shape you into an outstanding teacher.

 

4. Patience

Maths anxiety is a very real affliction and is thought to affect a large proportion of the population. Approaching maths lessons with a good level of patience is important. It’s possible your first explanation of a concept will not be understood. It’s also possible your second, third or fourth also will flummox some pupils.

Most teachers are graced with incredible levels of patience, but your tolerance and faith in pupils will not only help their self-confidence, it won’t be forgotten. Adults remember the teachers that never gave up on them.

If you’d like to read more about maths anxiety, read out blog Tackle maths anxiety with 6 outdoor activities.

 

 

5. A problem solver

Maths is all about problem solving and if you have problem solving skills, it can really help your teaching of the subject. Aside from the fact that in your teaching of maths you must teach problem solving, it also come in handy when children aren’t understanding a particular concept. You’re often required to come up with weird and whacky ways of teaching complicated concepts and processes. This not only helps the initial understanding but can also be helpful in ensuring a depth of understanding.

 

6. Communication

Communication is integral to being a good teacher. It is helpful to be a good communicator before you enter the classroom, but it is definitely a skill you learn to hone during your training and first year of teaching.

You learn quickly that good communication is not only helpful when teaching maths, it also helps build those all-important pupil-teacher relationships.

 

7. Modelling

One of the best ways to embed a concept is to model. You’re up at the front of the class and you take your pupils through a mathematical equation, all the time verbalising your thought-processes. It’s one thing to demonstrate to pupils how to do a sum, it’s another to access those thoughts that you often race through and take for granted when working things out in the real world.

In the classroom, if you can slow down and verbalise your thought process as you take pupils through a sum, then you’re a great modeller and that will definitely benefit the pupils you teach.

 

8. Humour

Most teachers will say that humour goes a long way in teaching; they are not wrong. Laughing with pupils is one of the greatest joys of being a maths teacher and making lessons fun and enjoyable for everyone involved will help children remember what you teach them for years to come. And it helps you enjoy your job, too. Win, win!

<a href="https://blog.hope-education.co.uk/author/talitha-mclachlan/" target="_self">Talitha McLachlan</a>

Talitha McLachlan

Hope Education writer

Talitha worked as a primary and secondary teacher for 9 years before turning her hand to writing. She is passionate about effective education of children and supporting teachers to do this. In her free time, Talitha enjoys sewing, films, and spending time with her two cats.

28 October 2020

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