Taking part in the CfEM Teaching for Mastery Trial

By Michael Boucher, Lecturer in Maths at East Surrey College

…taking part in the Teaching for Mastery Trial with the Centre for Excellence in Mathematics this year has been vastly instructive to me as a practitioner.

As well as being hugely beneficial to my students, taking part in the Teaching for Mastery Trial with the Centre for Excellence in Mathematics this year has been vastly instructive to me as a practitioner. There has been tremendous reward, not only from considering different methods for teaching the more inaccessible and neglected topics, but from having the opportunity to discuss this as well as other strategies, anxieties, and observations with a varied group of peers from other institutions.

Adapting to a different style of teaching was initially a challenge – I had assumed that lessons devised by somebody other than myself could only be so different to my own, after all the topics and concepts are surely the same? How wrong I was – not only was the pacing of the lessons significantly slower than my own optimised delivery of as much information as possible in fewer teaching hours than the course was designed for, but each of the lessons necessitated a wholly new teaching approach – allowing the students to struggle, fail even and grapple with the activities in order to learn in a more valuable and self-guided way. The instinct to simply provide the answers had to be overcome. At the time I had been sceptical about the value of this, but a highlight of the trial came when the day arrived to teach my own lesson, observed by the rest of my cluster, and my students not only succeeded under these less nurtured circumstances, but excelled even, and were perhaps more engaged and motivated than I have ever seen them. This alone has forever changed preconceptions I have about the learning process.

I am incredibly grateful to the team behind this project, as well as the peers, tutors, and coordinators in my cluster group for the enriching and fulfilling time this has been.

Michael Boucher
Lecturer in Maths at East Surrey College

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