Can I help you?
An interesting thing happened in my first week. I created an activity that my colleague teacher at the Ninja school thought was so good, she asked me to present it during a faculty meeting to all the maths teachers. While maybe a little nervous, I was only too happy to comply.
With my computing background (Major in Computing and Maths), the staff at the ninja school were initially very intrigued to see what I could bring to the maths classroom. I made it a personal goal in one sense to ‘show off’ to the teachers and students about how I can integrate obscure numbers and formula’s into ICT. The activity was about the stock market, essentially voting stocks and marketing decisions. Each student was required to vote on a decision, the result was automatically tabulated through Excel, and the students were able to see the result in the form of newspaper clippings set in the future that I created using a generator I found online. The students loved it, definitely helped increase my rapport with them (McBurney-Fry, 2002, p. 99). It was especially interesting to them because all students had greatly differencing total stocks, and since the voting was based on shareholding, the activity emphasised the value of a vote from a major and minor shareholder – leading to some hilarity for those that had only a few shares.
Element 6 of the NSW Institute of Teachers standards is about how “Teachers continually improve their professional knowledge and practice”. Specifically, 6.1.6 states that graduate teachers should contribute to the teaching of their subject, and 6.2.6 for the professional competence outlines how teachers should participate constructively in discussions. I feel that through my sharing of resources among the rest of the faculty, I have attained both of these.
Did I go too far? While this experience proved a great success, there has been a feeling by me that some of the things I’ve done have moved beyond the point of relevance, and the content and application of processes that students need to learn is not being taught correctly. The girls are greatly interested in the lessons I am teaching, but sometimes I walk away feeling like I ‘entertained’ them, rather than taught them. As Krech, Cruchfield and Ballachey argue, “the attitude of an individual is shaped by the information to which he is presented” (Krech, Crutchfield, & Ballachy, 1962, p. 186). In this context, the girls might be really enjoying the subject that I am teaching them, and thus come to expect that for all my classes. So I suppose the biggest challenge I face is ensuring the balance of content versus interest. A lesson might be largely related to a topic, but if students don’t learn how to make the simple calculations as described in the syllabus, then is it really worth it? Especially, given the time constraints in teaching the mathematics course (NSW Board Of Studies, 2003)?
Krech, D., Crutchfield, R., & Ballachy, E. L. (1962). Individual In Soceity. Berkeley: McGraw-Hill.
McBurney-Fry, G. (2002). Improving Your Practicum. Sydney: Thomson.
NSW Board Of Studies. (2003). Mathematics Years 7-10 Syllabus. Sydney: Board Of Studies NSW.
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney. NSW Institute of Teachers.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.