I have just finished my 4th year of teaching at Tarleton Academy, where I started as an NQT. Throughout that time the school has taught mixed attainment in all subjects – apart from Maths. This is largely because as a faculty we have contested for years that ‘maths is different to other subjects’ and ‘you can’t teach mixed attainment classes in maths.’ So when I was asked to go to the first #mixedattainmentmaths conference in January 2017 on a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham I was against the idea. In addition, at this point I had a rule – no working on a Saturday. However I reluctantly decided to go along (partially because I didn’t have an excuse not to go!) with an open mind and at the very least get some ideas to develop my teaching.
I went to the conference with my school’s Director of Standards Jo Bacon (@miss_jobacon) and we were ready to sink our teeth in – starting with a team selfie.
My first session was with Mike Ollerton on using geoboards and that’s all it took for me to see what teaching mixed attainment classes was all about. I am sure anyone who has had the pleasure of learning from Mike will appreciate how amazed I was, having gained so many ideas in such a short space of time. I have since used ideas from his session on several occasions with fantastic results, but that is for another blog!
By the end of the day I was fully on board. Having the opportunity to learn from such experienced, knowledgeable people with a passion for teaching mixed attainment maths made a massive impact on my development as a relatively inexperienced teacher, and I can’t thank each of them enough. Since the first #mixedattainmentmaths conference I have tried a number of the ideas that were shared and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences, but for now I am happy to say that it has changed my perspective on teaching, and the way that I teach. I have since changed my rule on working on Saturdays, and I have bought in to mixed attainment maths.