Confident and Informed

Leanne Shaw (@leanneshawAHS), Maths teacher, mother to first baby, Oscar and our York Advocate, explains how she used her maternity leave to improve her subject knowledge, structuring her CPD through our very own, flexible MTPT Project Accreditation.

As I am rapidly approaching my return to work date, I have decided to write a summary of the CPD that I have completed on maternity leave, and hope that this will be especially useful for any mathematics teachers on maternity or paternity leave. I have also spoken about my MTPT accreditation and how I intend my CPD to support my return to the classroom.

When my baby was 6 weeks old, I was approached by TeachWire asking me to write a blog for them on an aspect of Mathematics teaching; I gladly accepted, but warned them it would take a while to write with such a young baby! A few months later, it was written. I decided to focus on the issues with KS3 transition, and how often our Year 7s’ knowledge is underestimated by secondary teachers. I enjoyed writing the blog, and researching more into it led me to other interesting areas of research that I was able to follow.

I found the Mr Barton Maths podcasts invaluable in terms of following educational research. They are very well researched and planned, and the guests that he has are very knowledgeable in their fields, and have a lot of very good points to add. I am always questioning my practice after listening to each one, and come away with lots of more informed approaches to the best ways to teaching Mathematics. They are a large 

time investment, but this does show how much detail they go into, and were great in the early days when my baby would only sleep on me (and, amazingly, they are completely free!). Craig Barton has a book (to be published In January) summarising what he has learnt whilst recording his podcasts, so reading that is another option to access the research.

One area of teaching that I felt less experienced in was A Level teaching, in particular Mechanics. I was also aware that there was a new A Level which was started being taught from September 2017. I enjoyed reading Jo Morgan’s regular Resourceaholic blogs and found these to be an excellent source of information about the changes at KS5. These were very concise and well researched, and quick to read. In terms of developing my pedagogical and subject knowledge at KS5, I cannot praise and recommend MEI and the FMSP enough. I had already enjoyed completing the MEI Teaching Advanced Maths in my RQT year, and during my maternity leave I decided to sign up for the FMSP Teaching Mechanics 1 course. This course seemed ideal for me to complete on maternity leave – it takes place on two study days, either on Fridays or Saturdays (I chose Saturdays so that my husband could look after our son), and across 10 live online videos which start at 7pm, but are recorded to be watched later for those nights when bedtime doesn’t quite go to plan! They provide a huge range of resources. After each online video is a consolidation exercise to complete, and there is an online forum where course tutors and other course participants can answer any questions that may arise when completing them; I found this incredibly helpful as it allowed me to ask very specific questions and get helpful replies which helped to boost my subject knowledge.

I also spent a small amount of time updating my website, Maths Problem Solving, adding some more resources and fixing broken links, as well as directing people to it on social media.

A few months into my maternity leave, I decided to sign up for The MTPT Project Accreditation, which certifies the CPD that is completed on maternity leave so that your work can be demonstrated to your employer, as well as providing coaching to help you to direct your CPD.  I found the coaching sessions with Emma really beneficial, and it was very helpful to be able to bounce ideas between each other of how I could continue, and use, my CPD. For example, after one of our coaching sessions, I contacted some local schools to visit and observe some of their best practice, focussing on the new A Level teaching and high ability GCSE, which I hadn’t observed much of before. When I was working full-time it was hard to find time to observe other teachers, and I am lucky enough to work in a stable department, so I found it interesting seeing different teaching styles and hope to find more time to do this in the future.

Over the year I’ve put together a list of teaching tips, research findings and resources which I know will be used daily over the next year, and I found writing my Accreditation Reflection helpful in linking all my areas of CPD together over the year. I feel confident that this will enable me to return to the workplace more confident and informed, and I look forward to updating The MTPT project with how my return to work goes.