I signed up to MathsConf in a rash moment during Feb half term when giving up my Saturday to hang out with 800 maths teachers seemed like a good idea. It turned out it was. I knew nothing about the event nor the organiser, La Salle but the programme looked interesting and I recognised some names from blogs I follow. And it was free.
This event in Aston University was the 3rd in a series of 6 and essentially part of La Salle’s “mission” to help teachers build a professional learning network underpinned by their product “Complete Mathematics”. So the event was essentially a marketing exercise for the product. Not to do them a disservice by saying that – it was an extremely useful event.
The bulk of the day involved workshops. I’m sure they were all great, but I can’t help feeling that I picked well! The 3 I attended were excellent and very varied in their nature.
A recurring theme of many of the discussions was deeper understanding amongst learners and I certainly came away from the day feeling vindicated in my instinct that a mastery approach is a “good thing”.
Another reflection: only once did I hear anyone mention Ofsted. It was refreshing to be with a bunch of professionals who have the conviction of their own experience to not just blindly follow what they are told to do. Having said that, these 800 teachers were hardly representative of the 350,000 Maths teachers in the UK, the vast majority of who would, quite rightly, not have given up their Saturday. We have to be realistic about teacher workload and any reforms, new ideas or changes to pedagogy have to be set in the context of a profession already under considerable strain.
Finally, it was great to make new contacts. Somewhat daunting and random with so many people there, but it was great to actually meet some of my contacts on Twitter and blogs that I follow.
Here are my rough notes from the session which probably won’t make much sense to anyone else. (Things in italics are my reflections, not what the speakers said). If I feel the urge, I may write more on individual sessions once I have had chance to digest them a bit more. But for now, my family needs me back!