This is a shout out to all girls everywhere. We are awesome, listen to the good stuff and stop being so hard on yourself.

This is something I have and am still trying to work on. As a gender we are generally predisposed to be “perfect” and “good” and as a young girl I can remember being really preoccupied with getting things perfect. It often stopped me from trying things out as a kid and made me question what was the right decision.

I regularly see this in my students.

Lets look at different levels of ability.

One class, top set and very confident independent learners. However as I have noticed in my classroom, they are often scared of any imperfection. Their books are incredibly neat and tidy (great for marking) but as a maths teacher I can tell you that you need to use paper to do your working out and try out different concepts. In this article the author explains how this perfectionism can lead to girls giving up much sooner than boys. I would argue this is true for all girls regardless of their perceived intelligence.

One argument put forward by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck is that intelligence is not fixed at birth through genetics but can rather be developed. It is a simple idea that makes all the difference and I have seen it in action.

A different class that need more support in their learning. I worked with them last year, building their confidence and encouraging them to take risks and to ask questions. This year I was asked if I wanted to teach them foundation or higher tier GCSE maths. I have chosen to adapt the higher tier syllabus to ensure they are better equipped to take the higher paper in year 11 and are more likely to obtain their grade C or higher at GCSE. As it stands at the moment they are consistently working at a Grade C at the moment. Last year they made on average 4 sub-levels of progress, which is two above the expected level of progress for any student. This is absolutely wonderful and I am incredibly proud of them.

One key tool that encourages my students to try out questions is mini whiteboards.

mini whiteboards

This simple thing means that my students are more inclined to try something out. I asked them on Friday, why do you enjoy using the mini-whiteboards? The reply was that they didn’t want to mess up their books. Such a simple thing, but it allows them the freedom to experiment and build their confidence in maths.

The lid is off the jar…

flea jar