For many educators in Australia today is the last working day of the year and a really good time for reflection. Many of you have recently spent lots of time writing school reports and thinking about what your students have learned over the course of the year, but it’s just as important for you to stop and think about what you have learned as a teacher and learner.
Reflecting on my year, I realise I have learned many things through my work. My research has taken me to a range of schools to explore if teaching children mathematics through financial literacy education improves their engagement. The answer is a resounding yes! The fantastic teachers and students involved in the research found that learning about financial literacy made mathematics purposeful and more meaningful. Better still, many of the children involved learned some much deeper lessons about giving (appropriate at this time of the year). The children from Fairfield Public School, a school in a low socio-economic area of Sydney with a high population of refugee students, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e9CQhsMBIo) ran small businesses to raise money for underprivileged children – learning about money and raising their own money empowered these children to give something back to the community. These children taught me something about empathy and generosity.
My teaching this year took me to a new frontier with my first foray into teaching a brand new fully online course, the Graduate Certificate in Primary Mathematics Education. The biggest challenge (and risk) was whether I could engage my students in a similar way to the way I know I can engage students in face-to-face teaching and learning. I’m pleased to report that from all accounts students were engaged and I believe this was because of the relationships built during the online and synchronous lectures and meetings. The lesson here is that pedagogical relationships, as described in my Framework for Engagement with Mathematics, are important to all students, regardless of age, as a foundation for engaging with course or syllabus content. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t use lots of bells and whistles, it’s about understanding your students and giving them the best learning experience you can.
So what have you learned this year? How have you developed as a teacher, and just as importantly, what have you learned as a learner? How are you going to evolve as a teacher next year? What will you do differently? How will you share what you know? How will you engage as a teacher in order to engage your students with mathematics?
This year I had many opportunities to travel all of the country and overseas. Along the way I met hundreds of inspiring teachers who are so enthusiastic about ensuring their students have the best opportunities to improve their learning outcomes in mathematics. I have delivered many keynotes and workshops, and this, I believe, has been the best and most rewarding part of what I do. I have written lots of blog post and learned how to use Twitter, and hopefully I’ve helped to spread the word about the importance of engaging all children with mathematics.
I wish every one a fantastic holiday season, I thank you all for reading my blog, and I look forward to engaging with you all in 2016.