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Category: Being a good teacher

Anything about what I should be doing as a teacher next time I interact with a student or make a resource for students.

Leaving the most important teaching to chance

Something is bothering me about teaching at university: we are leaving the most important teaching to chance.
In most tutorials, there is an opportunity to try out things with a tutor there to talk to about it, or deep discussion of course content, or at the very least worked examples of using the ideas in practice […]

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Mr Johnson’s Rainbow

I love reading and writing, and the way that people use words to express ideas fascinates me. So it is no surprise that when I was in Year 12, I studied the highest level of English available. My English teacher was called Mr Johnson and I hated him. (It wasn’t really, Mr Johnson — I’ve […]

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A public health approach to improving teaching and learning

Making a big difference to student learning is a tricky business. Here at my university, there are a certain number of (wonderful) teaching staff who are champions of innovation, always making big changes to the way they do things and jumping onto any innovation as soon as it comes around. Yet the students not in […]

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Stop hating on cis(θ)

I met with some lovely Electrical and Electronic Engineering lecturers yesterday about their various courses and how I can help their students with the maths involved. And of course complex numbers came up, because they do come up in electronics. (I have not the slightest clue how they come up, but I am aware that […]

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Three hours in the MLC Drop-In Centre

Last week, I had one of those days in the MLC Drop-In Centre where I was hyper-aware of what I was doing as I was talking with students and by the end I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I had thought about. I decided that today I might attempt to process (or […]

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The Arts students’ maths brain

Yesterday I talked about one of the common responses to people finding out I am a mathematician/maths teacher, that of saying, “I’m not a maths person.” The other common response I get is, “I don’t have a maths brain.” (John Rowe mentioned this in his comment on the previous post.)
This is how I reacted last […]

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Actually, I am a maths person

I am a mathematician and a maths teacher. Therefore it is an occupational hazard that any random person who finds out what my job is will respond with “I’m not a maths person.” The most frustrating people are my own students who I am trying to tell that my actual job is to help them […]

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Problem strings and using the chain rule with functions defined as integrals

In Maths 1A here at the University of Adelaide, they learn the following theorem (this is taken from the lecture notes written by the School of Maths here):

It says that, given a function of x defined as the integral of an original function from a constant to x, when you differentiate it you get the […]

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Differentiating exponents: two wrongs make a right

I was talking to a student about his calculus last week. He was trying to differentiate xx. (Actually he was trying to differentiate x ln(x) and had decided the best place to start was to raise e to the power of it, thus producing xx.) At first he tried this:

I asked him what he thought […]

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SQWIGLES: a guide for action and reflection in one-on-one teaching

It’s university holidays again (aka “non-lecture time”), which means I’m back on the blog trying to process everything that’s happened this term. Mostly this has been me spending time with students in the Drop-In Centre, since I made a commitment to do more of what I love, which is spending time with students in the […]

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