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Who are the best Maths teachers? Why? How do we get them?

As a principal in a Victorian government school, I have a high degree of autonomy with respect to recruiting staff. We have the Teaching Standards that applicants must address, we interview them, check referees, etc. and they must be registered with the Victorian Institute for Teaching (VIT). We endeavor to appoint high quality practitioners, or those that have demonstrated a capacity towards this, but this is also in the context of a severe shortage of people applying for teaching positions, especially in rural locations or hard-to-staff schools.

 

In my school, and, I suspect at system level, we are struggling to attract teachers, particularly Maths teachers. We have programs available to retrain or upskill staff and we use frameworks such as the Victorian e5 Instructional Model that defines effective teacher practice and it can assist teachers to know what high quality practice looks like and how they work with students to increase their understanding and build their knowledge base. Teachers can self assess against the Continuum and know exactly where they are located in terms of proficiency level, and it gives them a sense of direction about those areas you can improve. Our challenge is to embed the use of this framework.

 

However, my question is, 'Who are the best Maths teachers, and why?', not, 'Who are the best teachers at Maths?' Why? Is there a predisposition to being a great teacher that includes high levels of emotional intelligence, not just a high IQ or high level of content knowledge in any particular subject area? How do we determine this prior to graduates becoming pre-service teachers? Should we?

 

While our teachers do need a deep understanding of subject content, and this is particularly important when they are differentiating tasks to extend all students in their classrooms i.e. no matter where the students are at with their mathematics levels, but pedagogical knowledge and skills as well as high levels of emotional intelligence are critical for teachers to be effective.

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Idea No. 74