Master Your Math was officially launched in June 2017 with the intention that I can implement what I believe will be effective teaching methods in my own lessons, as opposed to having to follow another person’s methods if I work at other tuition centres. After 6 months, I decided to take some time off from teaching to not only rest, but also evaluate my own teaching methods. I am a firm believer in iterations and continual improvements. After days of reflection and observing other teachers, I have come up with three areas of change that we will be seeing in MYM’s lessons.
Much more structured lessons and overall curriculum
For the regular lessons of MYM, I adopted a rather flexible approach to curriculum and what I was teaching for that particular lesson. I kept track of what my students were learning in school and tried to pace my lessons as closely to their school as possible. The intention was that I wanted to mirror what the schools were teaching my students so that my students’ content was reinforced here. On paper, this sounds like a good plan. However, the execution did lead to several problems.
For example, my students came from different schools and it was difficult to match all of them. When a certain student requests for a certain topic within that very lesson, I had to change my lesson plan at the very last minute to suit that need. In the end, I wasn’t able to plan sufficiently for that lesson and I believe this affected the teaching standard. In addition, it was generally harder to keep track of topics taught and to ensure that each student got sufficient practice in the topic.
Hence, moving forward, I will be sticking to a much more structured approach. I’ve planned out the curriculum and the exact topic to be taught for each lesson. To prevent the confusion that arises from trying to match what each student is learning in school, I will be following my schedule on a much stricter basis. Parents do not have to worry that I will not be teaching the relevant concepts. My curriculum is derived from the exact curriculum requirements as laid out by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board. I will ensure that my students learn the topics that will be tested for O Levels. In addition, knowing what topic I will be teaching for each lesson gives me more time to plan the lesson in advance, whereby I can concentrate more on the nitty gritty details like common mistakes and motivation of learning a particular topic.
Many more questions to be added to the worksheets
As mentioned earlier, I ran my lessons with a more flexible approach, taking note of where my students were at for the worksheet of that lesson and pacing myself accordingly. However, I may have let my students’ pace influence me too much to the extent that sometimes we went through too few questions.
In order to mitigate this issue, I will be keeping a closer watch on the time, going through the questions at shorter and more regular intervals. To keep up with the demand for more questions (since we will be practising and going through more questions), I am expanding my current question bank (I will be at least doubling the questions that I have) and currently revamping all my worksheets.
I believe that with more practice, a tighter control over lesson time and more frequent explanation of questions, my students can receive a higher quality of teaching.
Much more frequent reviews of topics taught
Another issue I faced was that it was easy for my students to forget what they were taught previously. This is not surprising as my students are busy individuals- they have to learn a diverse range of subjects and have other commitments like their CCAs. The time that they have for review is very limited. As such, I will be blocking out a lot more time for reviews. We will not be reviewing the topics only when exams are near; instead, we will be reviewing each topic every time we are done with that topic or for bigger topics, when we are done with multiple sub-topics.
I believe that more frequent reviews can lead to better retention of content and materials for my students. This alleviates the problem of trying to remember everything when exams roll around.
In conclusion, teaching, like any other skill, requires constant practice and self-reflection. I am excited at the changes that will be rolled out in this academic year and the impact they will have on my students.