Maths teacher problem tricky

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Tokomairiro High School principal Glenis Sim had not taught calculus for 20 years.
But then Covid-19 happened.

Staffing issues hit the school when its senior mathematics teacher moved to Lumsden just before the lockdown and the appointed replacement was — and still is — stuck in South Africa.

“It was all supposed to be an easy transition over the first term school holidays but Covid-19 appeared,’’ Mrs Sim said.

‘‘Then the head of the maths department also went on leave and didn’t return so we were left with a big hole to fill.

“Our year 12 and 13 senior students were desperately in need of maths teachers.

“Due to our small size, within each classroom there could be three to four different levels of study which we had to take into account.”

To fill in, Mrs Sim returned to her favourite teaching subject, maths, and also called on a former head of the maths department to come back and help.

Getting back into teaching after more than eight years in management was a challenge, she said.

“Doing eight hours of teaching per week and all the class prep work has been tiring but I have a great bunch of teachers here and they all step up to help out when I have to attend to management activities.”

The school also turned to online maths teaching resources.

“We knew there were online resources available from New Zealand companies which could help us out, so we looked at a couple and found LearnCoach’s multimedia approach to teaching best suited the needs of our senior students,’’ she said.

“They [the pupils] took to it immediately . . . ’’

Pupils working at various ability levels could easily relate to the online resource’s use of video, sounds and interactivity, she said.

The greater use of multimedia technology has been a lesson for the school.

“Even now we have continued to use it, because it allows us to teach everyone in the classes at the same time regardless of whether they are studying advanced or beginner calculus or algebra, all while working at different levels of understanding.

“For some students, listening and watching is better than trying to read books to find the answer, so because they are all working, I and my other teachers can easily help to solve any problems the students may be having.”