#TeacherPledge

It's the same all over the world: teachers evaluate their year over the summer holidays. They think about what went well, what didn't, and decide that the next year will be different. 

I had one of those "epiphany" moments on the day before A Level results. I was lying, face down, in an MRI machine, having part of my yearly MOT. What was I concerned about? Not the thought that something could show up on the scan, but what if my students didn't fulfil their potential? I gave myself a figurative slap in the face, and vowed to sort myself out!

So, I started using the hashtag #TeacherPledge to summarise changes that I want to make to my teaching life.  

My first pledge:

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I figured that I spent a lot of my day *reacting* to emails that popped up, rather than working through them systematically and logically. I took the tack that THEY NEED A REPLY RIGHT NOW, when really, that wasn't the case at all. 

I have more pledges to come, and maybe you'll join in with me? I want to make my work-life balance more, well, balanced, and to use a nice office-speak cliche, I want to work smarter. 

WHO'S WITH ME?

COMPETITION

Do you have an EMMAths badge?

Do you want to win an EMMAths mug??

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Take a picture of the badge in a wonderful, unusual or far flung place, and show it to me on my Facebook page, or by tweeting it with the tag #EMMAthsSummer.

I will pick my favourite and send them a mug :)  

Don't have a badge? Send me a message and I'll get one to you ASAP. 

Closing date: 31st August 2016

GOOD LUCK AND HAVE A GREAT SUMMER! 

 

Pokémon Go

Yes, yes... I know. It's the marmite of games, but I'm on the "loving it" side of the fence.

An ex-student of mine messaged me with an idea: we could use graph theory to find the shortest routes between Pokéstops.  

What impressed me was that this ex-student was using maths in a "real world" situation to optimise a problem!

(Real world = Pokémon of course)

I have tried to shoehorn maths into situations to tick boxes, but using decision maths does come in useful in this instance.  The closest I got to helping a student in reality was getting the class to make sure his paper round had the most efficient route.

I have made a network based on Game of Thrones, [HERE] but I can see this being another great example to use in the classroom.  It'll be local, and it'll be useful. If not for the students, then for me!!!!

I'm going to have fun mapping my area :) 

If you could only have access to one...

...website for the rest of your teaching career, what would it be?

I posed this question at a National Maths Teacher Conference, #mathsconf5, (how long ago??!) and asked delegates who came to my workshop to leave their "Desert Island Website" on a slip of paper before they left.

I don't really know what I was expecting: a consensus maybe? A crowd-sourced ULTIMATE LIST? 

I was actually surprised by the variety of submissions (although one website did emerge as a winner!), and I present the results below :) 

1 VOTE

EMMAths Awards 2015 - WINNERS

Here are all of the winners of the #EMMAthsAwards15

The winners were chosen using my opinion only - no anonymous votes, no one else's input. Me. All me! So of course, they're very biased =)

1) Blog Post of the Year

Creativity and Challenge in the Classroom

Written by @missradders on her blog Ideas for the Classroom, this post is an account of a workshop led by Don Steward at the University of Huddersfield, back in March. The event was organised by Ed Southall, @solvemymaths

Hannah really gets across the "aha" moments that took place all morning as we listened to Don Steward. I love to keep referring back to this post whilst I'm planning - especially the 4 bullet points at the end.

Thank you Hannah! =)

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2) Tweet of the Year

This is a recent tweet, but it certainly won the internet with it's funny punnery! I had been left without a Christmas Tree by Argos (grrr), and Mr @icecolbeveridge made me smile just when I needed it most with this:

3) Free Resource of the Year

This is a bit of a cheat. It's actually a set of resources. A MASSIVE SET.

JustMaths has put together over 150 documents after sifting through all of the sample resources for the 9-1 Maths GCSE (Foundation and Higher) from all exam boards. The questions have been collated into topics. This is an amazing resource. AMAZING.

Find them HERE (HIGHER) and HERE (FOUNDATION).

It is definitely the must-have free resource of the year.

4) Subscription Site of the Year

I subscribe to A LOT of maths resource websites. My plan is to review them all over the next few weeks! There is one site that I currently use the most. It's the one I turn to when I need to throw something up on the screen to get all students engaged. The resources are clear, concise, and project on the IWB very well.

My choice for the winner of this category is MathsBox.


5) Most Supportive Tweeter of 2015

It's not just because of the #FF tweets that appear VERY early on a Friday morning... This tweeter is always a couple of clicks of the keyboard away. He's always on hand to help, whatever the situation. Take, for instance, the palaver we had here when my husband's debit card was cloned and used all over the country. We were having a hard time getting through to the bank, so this tweeter got on the phone to help us too!

Twitter just wouldn't be the same without him. The Most Supportive Tweeter of 2015 is @RJS2212.

6) YouTube Channel of the Year

THIS is the channel that I routinely recommend to my A Level students. I adore the fact that it's "No Frills" maths - just MathsDave, going through exam questions on his SmartBoard. My students love it too, and use it whenever they need to make corrections on papers.

Thank you MathsDave!

7) Indispensable Tweeter of the Year

NOT maths related! @VirtualAstro has been a steady guiding hand throughout this year as my family get to grips with Astronomy. It's something we can all get geeky about together and the tweets from this account have given us confidence to go out and find things! Indispensable.

8) Blogger of the Year

This blog has it all. JustMaths.

 

Honesty. Resources. Ideas. Opinion. Insight. Comedy (!)

Mel's voice comes through loud and clear in all that she posts. If I could only every read ONE blog for the rest of eternity, this would be the one. Please read it. Subscribe to it. Learn from it.

9) Event of the Year

ACER Making the Grade D to C Event, Shuttleworth College, March 2015.

It was at this event that doors opened for me. I met new maths teachers, and made connections with many maths organisations across the country. This conference helped bring into focus the fact that I want to help as many teachers as possible, and it sowed the seed for EMMAths to be born. Without this event, and the invitation from Julia Smith, @tessmaths, I would still be rudderless.

10) Famous Tweeter of the Year

@standupmaths aka Matt Parker=)

I got to see him at the Festival of the Spoken Nerd in Lincoln in October, and he was BRILLIANT. My classes have named one of our tables after him (he's the only one out of Nightingale, Boole, Newton and Parker to be on Twitter), and I look forward to seeing his tweets in my timeline. He needs a blue tick!

11) Tweeter of the Year

Jo Morgan, aka @mathsjem

Back in 2014, seeming like a lifetime ago, I stumbled across Jo's twitter account and was hooked immediately, not least because her profile picture was a "mu" (my favourite!).

She shares, she collates, she inspires. The Sunday evening chat #MathsTLP and her website resourceaholic.com are staples for any planning, across KS3, KS4 and KS5.

Thank you Jo. I know I'm not the only Maths Tweacher who really values your work! ChristMaths15 was a resounding success =) #geeksrule

Legacy Post - Prism?

Originally posted on ElTimbre Blog, 12th June 2015

Was reminded of the post today when @Just_Maths asked IS A CYLINDER A PRISM?

Re: Is a cylinder a prism? by @DrBennison which followed this post from @mathsjem.

Here are some excerpts from my book collection which you may find interesting! I was hoping I'd be able to find a definitive answer... It would seem that a cylinder is more a Solid of Revolution than a prism, geometrically.

"Practical Plane and Solid Geometry", Harrison and Baxandall, 1895

"A Practical Course of Mathematics", A H Bell, 1946
This book groups Prisms and a Cylinder together - I think this is the root of the problem!

"Geometry of Construction", T B Nichols and Norman Keep, 1953

Best. Author Name. Ever.

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"Oxford Mathematics Study Dictionary", Frank Tapson, 1999

"A Thousand Faces of Geometry", Claudi Alsina, 2013

I like the sound of "Antiprisms"

Side note... Are THESE prisms?


Legacy Post - Bippedi-Boppedi-Boo!

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 1 Apr 2015

Only I could start thinking of Maths Hubs and collaboration and the DfE whilst sitting munching popcorn at the cinema with Little Timbre.

Richard Madden's Prince Charming, charming us all, uttered the lines:

"We need not look outside out borders for strength and guidance. Everything we need is right before us."

Granted, he was talking about the fact that he was in love with Cinderella, but the words struck a massive chord with me, and sent my mind into overdrive.

I've said before that I'm insulted by the notion that we have to look elsewhere for good practice and ideas in maths teaching. We have so much to offer here, and so much to share.

So, I've made up my mind. I'm not going to stand by and wait, and watch, and hope. Passivity is not the answer.

I don't need to be involved in a hub to collaborate (yes, I knew that before, but I felt like I was missing out on something big....)

I am going to wave my magic wand and I WILL go to the ball.

I will collaborate on Twitter.

I will host an Edexcel Maths Hub.

I will host a LaSalle Maths Teacher Network event.

I will put on the MathsTeachMeet that I'm planning.

I will put on workshops at the National Maths Teacher Conferences.

I will share on this blog.

My thoughts about hubs? Summed up by Cinderella herself...

"Just because it's what's done doesn't mean it's what should be done!"

I can make up my own mind.

Legacy Post - Five Words That Changed Me

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 18 Feb 2015

On December 14th, 2011, five words changed my life. At that point, my family and my survival were brought sharply into focus: work didn't matter anymore.

I remember going into school the next day to sort out my things, and walked past two of SLT in the corridor. "God she's as hard as nails" one of them said to the other. He couldn't have been more wrong. My "brave face" was on. I was there to finish a chapter, no, finish a book. Turn the last page as a HoD, and start writing a new story...

After 6 months of treatment, I did go back to the school, but I couldn't be a Head of Department any more. I went through the motions, doing observations, writing schemes of work, chairing meetings, but it didn't have the impetus that it once had.

I knew I had to leave for good, and once I got through the barrier of thinking I had to be loyal to the school who had supported me while I was off work, I started looking for a new job.

I had plenty of time during my treatment to evaluate what direction I wanted my career to go. (The other epiphanies I had about myself and my family are for another time... perhaps after a few glasses of wine!) I was born to be a teacher.

I love teaching. I was not meant to be a manager. I took a leap. A big one. From being Head of Maths at an 11-16 Academy to becoming a Maths Tutor at an FE College.

I made the right decision.

Since starting at the college, I've had more opportunities to develop my practice, I've been able to hone my skills of teaching, and I've been able to help so many students in the process.

I don't miss the bureaucracy. I don't miss the feeling of not being trusted. I don't miss being under constant scrutiny from all levels and all angles.

I've spoken at conferences, I've held a TeachMeet, my opinion has been valued, I've got my mojo back. So those five words that the consultant uttered four years ago changed my life for the better.

Yes, I went though hell with treatment.
Yes, I cried and shouted and prayed.

But those five words
"You have a little cancer"
...made me who I am today. And I like who I am.



Legacy Post - Hub or Hubbub

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 14 Feb 2015

Hubbub.

Noun.

  1. A loud or confusing noise.
  2. A confused situation.

I find myself sitting in the middle of a dilemma while wrapped up in a dichotomy. The feeling of wanting something to work so much, I'm almost blind to the fact that it's not going to work as things stand.

It's a strange situation to be in.

When the Local Authority Education departments all disappeared, and the National Strategy Advisors lost their jobs, a gaping hole was left in their place.  Some teachers relished this, happy to go their own way. Academy chains became islands. Other teachers missed that camaraderie and the feeling of not being alone. They missed thrashing out ideas and supporting peers. They missed the great feeling of working through a problem collaboratively and sharing their experience.

And lo... These teachers reached out and found each other through the medium of Twitter.

I tweeted earlier:

 

...and I genuinely believe this. We identified a gap and filled it for ourselves.

The DfE also identified this gap, and came up with the idea of the Maths Hubs. Centres of Excellence dotted throughout the country, where teachers could collaborate and develop.

I read the Storify log of the NCETM's #mathscpdchat (held in March 2014) in preparation for writing this post. Lots of contrasting ideas and concerns - most of which still stand one year on. Have a read and you'll see what I mean.

I very much enjoyed the Celebration of Maths event, held by the White Rose Maths Hub in Leeds. This was held on a Saturday, so there was no problem with missing classes or travelling. However, the event highlighted a few things that I am not sure can be immediately addressed - mainly  the problem that for a lot of us, this type of collaboration is not new. How can you differentiate for us? Or are the Hubs not meant for teachers like me?

I was embarrassed last year when I found out that a Launch Event had happened for a local hub without me knowing about it. I should have been there.  The idea of hubs is a good one. Filling the gap is imperative. There's a MASSIVE group of us who are already collaborating - we can help...

We want to collaborate with other maths teachers.

We want to share.

We want to develop our own practice.

We want to help others develop theirs.

We know that others want to do the same.

But... we have barriers to overcome before the Hubs idea will work.

Logistics - my "local" hubs are both about 70 miles away.

Communication - will the new Hubs website help with this?

Confused message - do I have one hub? Two? Three?

Shanghai

Time

Impact - with different parts of the country having a different Hubs-diet, how can this be measured or even seen?

Should such initiatives be TOP DOWN rather than GROUND UP?

I have so much to offer, but the obstacles are almost too much to surmount.  THIS is my dichotomy. I already feel like I'm missing out through no fault of my own...

 

Legacy Post - #Nurture1415

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 29 Dec 2014

Last year, I posted what I thought would be the last post on my blog. It was my #Nurture1314 post. Reading back over it, I am immensely surprised by the number of things I have accomplished this year! So, I'm resurrecting my blog, and I'm resurrecting it with this #Nurture1415 post. :)

2014 Accomplishments
1 Bluebells We found the bluebells this spring. A big moment. A new family tradition started, echoing that of my husband's grandparents.
2 TeachMeet This was a resounding success which contributed to me getting a promotion at work.
3 Support I held Mr Timbre's hand and walked beside him during a dark few months. The darkness is not yet over, but he knows that I'm with him every step of the way.
4 Child Timbres My babies have grown into wonderful human beings, confident, brave, loving and kind. I love them more that I have space to describe.
5 Confidence I presented some of my thoughts and ramblings on student engagement at the LaSalle maths conference earlier this year. A room full of mathematicians watching me pretend to be Gandalf. I was on the same billing as Johnny Ball and my Twitter BFF @Just_Maths. I'm very proud of that.
6 Cancer I'm still cancer free.

Wishes for 2015
1 No I need to learn to say no. I volunteer WAY too quickly for things, either because I want to help or I want to be involved. I must say no and not overwork and overstretch myself. I might need help with that.
2 Justice and Truth I have faith in our legal system, and Mr Timbre will get the truth he needs and deserves.
3 Boy Timbre He'll be starting secondary school in September. As I look at him now, a year 6, I can't believe he's so close to leaving primary. I hope he gets a place at the school he's chosen.
4 Little Timbre She wants to start acting classes. If you've met her, you'll know how much that would suit her!
5 Blog Now that I'm comfortable in my new job, I should blog more. Be brave about my opinions! Share more!
6 Health Eat better. Sleep better. Cancer will not rear its ugly head again.

Legacy Post - #Nurture1314

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 29 Dec 2013

My highlights from 2013

  1. This blog. Even though this will be the last ever post on the ElTimbre blog, I have enjoyed the excitement of my posts being read (and resources used) by others. I don't blog regularly enough to do the genre justice... so a change is on its way!
  2. New Job. This was the biggest and most wide-reaching change in 2013. I walked away from a secure(ish) HoD job and walked into a maths tutor role at a local 16-19 college. I love my job. I'm teaching again. Properly teaching. I wouldn't change it for the world.
  3. Health. Despite my paranoia, cancer did not raise its ugly head again in 2013. My hair has grown back, albeit a lot curlier than before. I worked a FULL term without a sick day. I'll call that progress! =)
  4. Doctor Who. 50th anniversary. Geekfest. Say no more.
  5. Mr Timbre. My husband has managed to complete 2/3 of his English degree. I couldn't be more proud =)
  6. Boy Timbre. My son took part in not one, but TWO national triathlons this year. He's 9 years old and loved every minute of them! He also got moved up a year in maths!
  7. Little Timbre. My daughter started full time school this September and is thriving! I'm in awe of how quickly she's picking things up.
  8. Twitter. Twitter has provided me with a sounding board and rant-outlet as well as support. I'm not alone.
  9. Friends. See above. So happy to have met the members of #geekclub this year!
  10. Woods. My family discovered a gorgeous privately owned woodland only 10 minutes from home. How did we not know it was there before?! We have enjoyed picnics and exploring, spending hours just "together".
  11. House. NEW BATHROOM! WOOHOO!
  12. Dogs. NEW PUPPY! Luna the Cockerpoo was welcomed to our family this year. We love her to pieces.
  13. Prize Winner. Earlier this month an ex-student, who has become a friend, told me that he's won a competition. I was obviously pleased for him. But then I discovered that the competition was to nominate a "Hero Maths Teacher" and that Simon Singh had selected me as one of three winners! Shocked. Amazed. Proud that I'd had such an impact. I love my job.

Looking forward to 2014

  1. This blog. This blog will be no more. It will be an ex-blog. I'm setting up a wiki which I can update "as and when" and not feel guilty about neglecting it from time to time! It'll be HERE when it's ready.
  2. Job. Really looking forward to the next two terms in my new role. Preparing students for their A Levels and seeing them move on - that's all new!
  3. Bluebells. I will walk amongst Bluebells this year. I want to do it every year. I know where to go now =)
  4. Collaborative SoW. OOOh. I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into this!
  5. TeachMeet. I'm setting up a TeachMeet at my college in June this year. EXCITING!
  6. Mr Timbre. He's going to finish his degree this year. That means the start of a GTP is in the wings. Two teachers in the house!
  7. Boy Timbre. He's going to start year 6 later this year, and he's "double figures" in a couple of weeks. Where did the time go? Going to GeoCache Hunt with him a lot more this year too.
  8. Little Timbre. Dance show in February. My little angel on stage! So proud.
  9. #GEEKCLUB. We will meet again.
  10. Health. Checkups to look forward to, which I have no control over. But... I am going to make sure I get proper rest from now on. (Well, when I go back to work!). Reasonable bedtimes. Winding down. Looking after myself.
  11. House. Hmmm... I'd love a new shed. Is that a "hope"???
  12. Hobby. Looking into, perhaps, making jewellery... Just for me. Just as therapy, perhaps it'll help with number 10 above??
  13. Bletchley Park. Me and a member of the Computing dept at college are putting together a proposal for a trip to Bletchley Park. I've never "done" a maths trip before. New territory!
  14. Twitter. I will have more followers than followees. It will happen!

Legacy Post - **Impact**

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 26 Jul 2013

There was one line in my leaving speech - that I'd had an impact on 2,291 students during my time at the School - that has been resonating all week.

My husband asked how I could be sure it was that many - my response was that I'd checked on SIMS, but the evidence of the impact was plain to see today as I walked through the local hospital. One ex-student was working in the hospital pharmacy. Another walked past wheeling a patient in a wheelchair towards x-ray. I saw 2 other students who smiled at me, and parents of students too.

As teachers, we have such a HUGE impact on our community. We make a difference. We really do.

Here's the transcript of my leaving speech. =)

~El~

I came here, 8 years ago as a single mum of a 1 year old boy. The streets of London just weren't paved with gold as I’d been led to believe, so I applied for a job at ******** (insert name of local "outstanding" academy) and here. I decided that here suited me better, and perhaps, at that time, I suited it too.

But now, it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to be a teacher again. It’s what I was meant to do!

I want to sum up my time here in the efficient way of a mathematician. So, since I started here in 2005…

I have:
Sent 30,000 emails
Drunk 6000 coffees
Taught 5000 lessons
Worked 2,700 days
Had an impact on 2,291 students

There have been:
88 episodes of Doctor Who (including the specials)
48 parents’ evenings
11 maths teachers
10 Chelsea managers. When I came here it was Jose Mourinho…

I've had:
4 job titles
3 classrooms
2 names
1 marriage
1 daughter

There will only ever be:
1 **** (insert principal's name here)
and
1 ****** (insert line manager's name here)

And, I need:
1 more student to get a C so that I leave safe in the knowledge that this Academy has had the best maths results ever.

Legacy Post - Get A Life

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 17 Feb 2013

   

 

 

A twitter exchange between me and @Just_Maths on Saturday morning has been bouncing around my head all weekend.

@Just_Maths : "Who would've thought it's half term? Lots of sharing of ideas this morning going on #mathschat. Should we be #gettingalife"

@El_Timbre : "We're just free of the actual teaching... The ideas flow when we're not in the "day to day" :)

To what extent are our creative-educator-juices stifled by the bureaucracy, politicking and grind of getting through a term?

It shouldn't happen. We shouldn't all heave a sigh of relief once the Wednesday afternoon "OFSTED-pardon" comes. We should be able to share and enthuse and delight in our "craft" all the time.

I've come to the conclusion that the "hundreds of holidays" that teachers have are not just for recharging our physical batteries. We need to recharge our thoughts too. Take a sabbatical from the day-to-day timetable and think about how we can guide our students in the most fresh and exciting ways.

So all of us who were on Twitter the first morning of the half-term holidays were enjoying the liberty that the break brings. We were regenerating.

Legacy Post - Come Into My Classroom

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 9 Feb 2013

This post is intended to be a little tour around my classroom. I think it's important that the room is stimulating, but that it also reflects me =)

The first picture shows my level progression displays, my maths alphabet, and my "Wow Wall" where I have an ever-changing display of work for each class that I teach. (I used push pins to tack the work to the wall so that I could easily swap them!)

The second picture shows my Big Bang Theory "Fun with Flags" display. I've but up some bunting (left over from the Olympics) and have asked maths questions based on the flags: What's the ratio of yellow to red in the Spanish Flag? What's the product of the number of stars in the USA flag and the number of stars in the Australian flag?

I also have a lesson countdown for the Year 11 students on my door.

The trays are for exit-AfL. The students self-assess their progress based on the learning objectives, and as they leave, they pop their exercise books in the appropriate RAG rated tray. Gives me instant feedback to inform my planning for the next lesson.

My "Geek Wall" faces me as I teach, and is a source of inspiration for me! The students love discussing the quotes and testing me on the Doctor Who Regeneration number line!

The probability display was one of those "saw this and thought of maths" moments!

This picture shows my reading corner, inspiration wall and other displays. The cutout David Tennant and Dalek come in handy for teaching ratio, scale and enlargement!

And finally... My clock...

STUDENT: "What time does this lesson finish Miss?"
ME: "20 past David Tennant of course!"


 

Legacy Post - Maths and Film

Originally posted on El Timbre Blog, 20 Jan 2013

I'm currently putting together a set of classroom posters which illustrate maths related quotes from TV and Film. I like to inject a lot of personality into my room and lessons, hence the need to have a "Geek Wall" :)

Whilst researching, I've been reminded of some short clips that I've used once or twice, but then forgotten about. So, for the purposes of keeping them "handy", I've grouped a few here. They're great to use as hooks for a lesson or topic.


Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) - Big Bang Theory
talks about his favourite number
 


Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) - Contact
The aliens make contact using prime numbers
 


Doctor Who - SE03 EP07 "42"
"Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?"
 


Star Trek TOS - "Wolf in the Fold"
Spock gives the computer an impossible task
 


Doctor Who - SE04 EP10 "Midnight"
Sky and The Doctor and the square root of pi
 


Doctor Who - SE01 EP12 "Bad Wolf"
How many Daleks?
 


~Might not use this one in lesson though~

Big Bang Theory
Sheldon calculates the number of partners Penny has had...