So we have reached the end of week two and I’m still standing. However I’m starting to understand why so many people call this course a rollercoaster ride. I’ve written this reflection over and over in my head this week, and each time it came out differently. Every day seems to make me question myself and what I know, or what I thought I knew. That is a good thing though, right?
Monday came and went without any fuss, but it was Tuesday that began to stir things up in my mind. We had a computing lecture and it was something I had actually been really looking forward to. I wouldn’t call myself a logical thinker or an IT fan, but I understand the importance of computing in the curriculum, and am eager to learn how I can make the subject relevant to my future pupils. Also, my fiancé is a software developer and it was nice to finally be learning about some of the things he talks about after work (it often goes over my head).
The lecture started with a chess piece puzzle. We had to navigate the knight around, making sure we only landed on each square once. Faced with a blank numbered grid, and instructions telling my to solve the puzzle I did what I usually do in this situation and give up. I know that’s terrible, but I am just not a puzzle person. I resigned to never being able to solve puzzles back in secondary school. Telling yourself something like that makes it feel very justified not to even try. Seeing that I was the only one not desperate to solve it was a shock and I realised my thought process was all wrong. So I tried, and failed.
Later on in the lecture we looked at another puzzle. This one was a tube map with all of the destinations linked neatly by little lines. Finding a route around them all was simple, even I had an answer almost immediately. We were then told that this puzzle was essentially the same as the one I had given up on. They both had 12 stops, and they both involved finding a route without visiting each stop/box more then once. This was a complete surprise but was the catalyst I needed to start looking at things in a different way.
A friend and I then went back and meticulously worked out which stop would fit in each box. What one was the aquarium? Well it could only be this one because the aquarium had 3 routes from it… We quickly labelled the whole grid, knowing that we could then use the same route that had solved the second puzzle, to solve the first. Simple. It may sound silly but this felt like a huge achievement for me. Something I hadn’t thought I was capable of, I had just managed to complete.
But what was so different the second time? The first time I was overwhelmed by the task, already having decided that I couldn’t possibly complete it. Once I had been given more information I was able to go back and think about it logically. What did I know? I worked with the information I knew was true, putting that down first. Then I worked from that point, set by step, not getting intimidated by the big picture.
It dawned on me that my attitude to a subject has a huge affect on how I perform. If I applied this thinking to my Maths, I would be much more likely to improve my confidence and subject knowledge. I felt like I had definitely turned a mental corner!
Following computing we had a maths seminar. It has become clear that my own maths learning as a primary student has dented my confidence. We would work quietly from work sheets. I would get the same questions wrong, make the same mistakes over and over, and feel quite useless. I now know that I am connectionist learner. I work best in Maths when I can explain things to my peers, and hear other peoples methods of working things out. All this time I have thought I was terrible at Maths, when really I may not have been taught well.
I hope that with this in mind I can grow to become an empathetic Maths teacher, who will be empathetic and adapt to the needs of an individual. I do not want to alienate children who just aren’t getting it. That’s the point that I need to change my method.
So I was a high for the majority of the week, having turned that corner. But, in true roller coaster fashion the high can only last so long. Towards the end of the week I tried some SATs Maths papers. The level 3-5 was fine, but the level 6 was a big struggle for me. Naively I think I believed that as I had this new found positive attitude I would be instantly better. Obviously this sounds ridiculous and was not the case. What scares we about Maths is that sometimes I think I’m doing well, and it isn’t until I mark it that I realise I was completely off track. Surely it’s worrying to not even be aware that you’re doing badly?
Anyway, I can’t let setbacks like these taint my new Maths learner image. I truly want to conquer this demon of mine, and become a successful teacher. At moment it seems like a big subject knowledge mountain to climb, but hopefully it I chip away at it slowly, I’ll get there.
Only one more week until we start the first of our school based training…where does the time go!? I’m so excited to get started, but it does worry me that time will pass too quickly, before I’ve actually learnt what I’m doing, and I’ll be applying for jobs in the blink of an eye.
So its been an interesting kind of week. I have learnt a lot about myself, whilst finding many more unanswered questions. That’s all part of the process though (so I hear).
A future mathematician