My Final Year Teaching Module
One of the absolute highlights of my time at Imperial has been taking part in M3T, a module offered in the Mathematics department that is titled “Communicating Mathematics”. This project module basically involves spending 1 day a week in a secondary school during term 2 of your final year. Since the secondary school I attended is very nearby to Imperial, I was lucky to do this project there.
During my first 2 or 3 visits I spent most of my time just observing lessons. During the term I would be focusing on 3 groups of students, Yr9 middle set, bottom set Yr11 preparing for GCSEs and a Yr12 Further Maths class. Soon enough, probably before I was totally ready, I was thrown into the deep end and teaching probability and tree diagrams to the Yr11s! It was a strange experience and initially I struggled to get the students to recognise me as a teacher rather than an alumna.
Week after week I felt like I was growing in confidence, teaching longer segments of lessons, and getting to know the pupils a lot better. The hardest part of the whole experience was definitely getting the students to behave. This offered me a different perspective to the classroom than what I remember of being a student.
For this module, you have to submit 3 pieces of work. The first is a teaching journal recording your adventures in lessons! You then also have to write a report and do a presentation on your special project. Your special project can literally be anything. Within my cohort alone students carried out projects on introducing students to data science, creating revision packs and supporting various groups of students. The school is non academically selective and therefore mixed ability. This results in certain students possibly not getting as much support as they need. Therefore, I decided to focus my project on helping students at the tail ends of the ability spectrum.
To support the students who are struggling a lot, I worked the GCSE students preparing for their exams but struggling to get close to their predicted grades. In this process I tutored them outside of lesson time and created “cheat sheets” on various difficult topics to provide them with more manageable chunks of information.
On the other side of the project, I worked with gifted and talented Yr8-9 students, preparing them for the UKMT Team Maths Challenge. This is initially a fun, regional competition where schools compete in 4 rounds including a crossnumber and relay. The students really seemed to enjoy the novelty of the mathematics involved in this competition. Although some of the students picked up the tricks quicker than others, all of them seemed eager to keep going, and not wanting to leave the classroom after each of the sessions!
My project eventually became redundant due to Covid-19 cancelling GCSEs and the competition, however I am glad to have contributed something to the school in the form of resources made for both sides of my project. I even made a little mock maths challenge for the students who missed out on their competition.
What I Gained from this Experience
Looking back on my degree, the skills and experience I gained in this module were monumental. After 23 lectured maths modules, getting out of Imperial and into the world was so much fun. The module wasn’t all easy, with 2 long dissertations, almost 17,000 words in total, and a presentation to complete before June, however I really did enjoy writing and speaking about my experiences at the school.
After being thrown into a school as a teacher, my respect for teachers has grown so much. The patience, dedication and expertise of a subject is a complex combination to achieve and I was incredibly motivated by my teaching mentors. But most of all what I loved about this module was being able to go into the real world and share my passion for Maths with the next generation of Maths students. I was so happy to be going into the community to help spread joy around Maths. Students often get bored of preparing for mandatory exams, bringing some challenges and novelty into it, the girls were finally thrilled to be doing Maths. This was absolutely the highlight of this whole experience for me. What a wonderful way to finish my degree at Imeprial.