Mastering the journey: a head’s reflection

Diane Hawkes (June 2022)

I have been reflecting on my work and links with the Cambridge Maths Hub and really can’t believe how far I have come and how much Teaching for Mastery has developed in Cambridgeshire and nationally.

Let’s wind back to Autumn 2015 when my deputy, who was the maths lead, came to me and asked to join a new CPD programme run by the Cambridge Maths Hub.

“Cambridge Maths Hub, who are they?”, I replied.

Luckily, I agreed and so our school joined the mastery programme in Autumn 2015 and my deputy attended the work groups run by one of the first trained mastery specialists.

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Every day is a CPD day

By Katie Crozier (March 2022)

The level of conversation we engage in, and the stimulating environment of the maths hub community, have encouraged me to look deeper than the surface features of a good lesson.  That has led me to ponder how we develop high-quality teaching and how can we improve it even further.

Good maths subject knowledge

Our own subject knowledge is absolutely crucial in our job, and needs to be a moving and living thing, not static.  We can always learn more about the maths for ourselves.  We also need to continue to develop our understanding about how children think about the maths and how concepts are learned and applied.  By itself, however, good subject knowledge doesn’t result in high-quality teaching. 

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Effective Teacher Collaboration

A research summary by Cordelia Myers, December 2021

“The fact that we must collaborate is no longer contentious … even if it is sometimes challenging to implement … professional collaboration and building social capital … improves student learning” (Hargreaves, 2018, p2). Accepting this premise, I am going to focus on types of effective collaboration and the characteristics of a school culture necessary for effective collaboration.

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May the best player win

by Mark Dawes (October 2021)

I thoroughly enjoyed watching tennis this year (Wimbledon, New York, etc) and have, naturally, been thinking about some of the maths behind the tournaments.  In the four grand slam tennis tournaments, the women’s events are best of three sets, while the men’s events are best of five sets.  What effect does this have on whether the ‘better’ player is likely to win?

I am going to recount what I did while thinking about this.  There are several reasons for sharing this:

  • It shows how some GCSE probability can be applied to a problem
  • It shows how a problem can be tackled using maths from different levels
  • It allows a discussion of probability models
  • It can be extended in interesting ways
  • This might be useful for A-level mathematics students to see, as an introduction to using the binomial distribution

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Linking the ECF and the work of the Maths Hubs

By Mark Dawes (Sept 2021)

The Early Career Framework (ECF) provides considerable detail about the things Early-Career Teachers (ECTs) should do as part of their induction to the profession, during the two years after they have qualified as teachers.

It is a generic document, for primary and secondary teachers of all subjects.  When a group of teachers from the Cambridge Maths Hub discussed the framework, we were struck by how many of the statements reminded us of some of the key tenets of Teaching for Mastery, as it is presented by the NCETM and promoted (through work groups and the training of mastery leads) by the Maths Hubs.

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It’s not you – it’s me

By Mark Dawes (September 2021)

Over the past year, professional development courses, mathematics teaching conferences, meetings and work group have all moved online.  This has had many obvious disadvantages, but a major positive has been not needing to travel.  As a result, I have been in the fortunate position of being able to attend lots of sessions in the past 18 months, including CPD in summer term 2020 (after CAGs were complete), both of the subject association conferences during the Easter holidays in 2021 and more CPD after TAGs this past summer (2021).

This blog post is a reflection on two presentations I attended.  There were lots of similarities.

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Year 3 Fabulous Fractions Week

by Katie Crozier (May 2021)

My Y3 children missed out on the Y2 fractions unit of work last year during the time of school closures, and from the pre-unit assessment it was clear that I needed to start at the beginning of the fractions journey.  This suited me well as there is some excellent materials available to support this using the Y3 NCETM PD materials fractions spine.  However, these teaching slides alone didn’t provide the rich fractions experience that I wanted the Y3s to have.  So, plans for fabulous fractions week began to be formed.

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It’s good to be back!

By Mark Dawes, in conversation with Andy Cornick and Jo Cayley (March 2021)

Now that the vast majority of staff and children are back in the school building it seemed useful to capture some thoughts while these are still fresh.  What follows is taken from conversations with Andy (secondary) and Jo (primary) about their experiences.

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Cats don’t like avocados.  Maybe.

by Mark Dawes (February 2021)

I don’t often eat avocados but bought some last week when they were on special offer in the supermarket.  I ate one this morning and then one of our cats, always excited about anything new in the house, jumped up and started licking the inside of the avocado skin.  Three minutes later he started retching.

My first thought: “Cats don’t like avocados”.  But maybe they love the taste, and it’s just too rich for them (in the same way that young children like chocolate but it can make them ill!).

Would it be better as: “Avocados make cats ill”?  But perhaps that’s not true of all cats and only our cat is susceptible.

My third try: “My cat and avocados are not a good combination”.  But maybe it’s only because it was the first time he had tried it and if he were to get used to it then things would be fine (not that I’m planning on this!).

Fourth go:  “An avocado made my cat ill this morning”.  That sounds better.  But perhaps the timing was a fluke and he had previously eaten something else that didn’t agree with him.

I finally landed on: “My cat ate avocado and was ill a few minutes later.  I don’t know if there is a connection.”

While this clearly links with the idea that “correlation is not causation” (demonstrated brilliantly here in one of my favourite xkcd cartoons), this made me think about online teaching and how we tell whether students are engaged in the lesson.

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