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.

Space to enter

This is a photo of the entrance to my Maths Learning Centre. What do you notice?

There are many many things to notice in that photo, and if you ever want to ask me about any of them, please do. Today, the thing I want to focus your attention on is the empty space right at […]

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Book Reading: You’re Not Listening

This blog post is about the book You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy, and in particular my reactions to it from a teacher’s perspective.
First, I want to apologise to Chelsea Avard for borrowing the book from her little student leadership library and holding onto it for a whole year while I got round to reading it […]

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Four levels of listening

Listening is one of the most important aspects — no, scratch that — the most important aspect of my work in the Maths Learning Centre.
It is not obvious to people starting out tutoring in the MLC that this should be the case. To a beginning tutor, it seems that it’s their job to explain things to […]

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Other(ing) Explanations

Most people who teach mathematics are aware that it’s useful to have alternative explanations for concepts, and useful to have different ways to approach problems. Given enough time, you are guaranteed to come across students for whom the standard explanation isn’t working today (as long as you give students a chance to tell you about […]

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Running out of puzzles

Because people know I run the One Hundred Factorial puzzle sessions, they often ask me if I have a repository of puzzles they can use for their classroom, enrichment program, maths club, or their own enjoyment. Sometimes I feel embarrassed because I don’t actually have a big repository of puzzles. Surely since I am a person […]

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My first Maths Teacher Circle

Last week I participated in my first Maths Teacher Circle. I just want to do a quick blog post here to record for posterity that I did it and it was excellent. I choose to take the practical approach of just relating what happened.
I had been interested in somehow going to one since I heard […]

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The Solving Problems Poster

This blog post is about the Solving Problems poster that has been on the MLC wall for more than ten years in one form or another. The most current version of it in handout form is this:

You can download this handout in PDF form here.
I’ve been meaning to blog about it for some time, but […]

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Questions with a morally wrong answer

I think asking students questions is an important part of my job of helping students succeed. Good questions can help me see where they are in their journey so I can choose how to guide them to the next step, or can help to make clear the skills they already have that will help them […]

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The memory of His Royal Highness

Once upon a time, I met a His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
The story of how that happened was pretty cool from my perspective, but every so often I wonder about it from his perspective. The Duke is the patron of the Royal Institution of Australia, and was in Australia just as they were […]

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Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel

One of my favourite puzzles is the Twelve Matchsticks puzzle. It goes like this:
Twelve matchsticks can be laid on the table to produce a variety of shapes. If the length of a matchstick is 1 unit, then the area of each shape can be found in square units. For example, these shapes have areas 6, […]

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