- Published: 01/05/2019
Martyn Yeo is Maths Lead and Year 2 teacher at Whitestone Infant School in Warwickshire. He holds the NCETM’s Accredited PD Lead status and is also a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE).
I can still remember being an NQT 13 years ago, when Facebook was only just coming into fashion. Then, all my CPD came from face-to-face learning. Don’t get me wrong, this still happens, thanks to The Gateway Alliance, a school company leading professional development across Warwickshire, and my local Maths Hub (@CentralMathsHub). I have been inspired by the likes of Andrew Jeffrey (who runs a ‘Magic of Maths’ show) and Dr Vince Trakulphadetkrai (who promotes maths through stories). And I get a fresh perspective from sharing practice and ideas with local teachers.
But now the vast majority of what I learn comes from social media. There is such a lot out there to inspire, support and challenge my ways of teaching maths.
I am no expert, but this is part of the attraction of social media. You get direct access to the thoughts and wisdom of some maths legends and can even strike up a conversation with them. I still get excited when they ‘like’ and retweet my posts.
Here is a pointer to some of the things I have found useful on social media.
According to my 14-year-old nephew, ‘only old people use Facebook’. But I have found some great Facebook groups that have been supportive and full of ideas to develop CPD. One is Primary Maths Subject Leaders, a group of leaders who ask questions and seek advice from other maths leaders. Posts get great feedback from nearly 12,000 like-minded practitioners. This, to me, is far more effective than just asking the same people in your local area.
I have wasted hours of my life watching videos of animals doing silly things and people falling over! But there is so much more to explore on this social media platform and it is a great way to get students engaged in maths.
Being a ‘YouTuber’ is what many young people aspire to. With this in mind, I took to the stage and recorded some explanatory videos for parents about how we teach maths at my school (@WhitestoneInfs). They have gone down a storm! If I was working with older children, I would certainly be getting them to create their own videos!
Twitter is where I do a lot of my professional development nowadays. It is a quick and easy way to share best practice and to hear from inspirational people. Twitter colleagues have opened my eyes to different possibilities. They have made me think more deeply about how I deliver lessons in the classroom and how I support staff in my school.
One of the most effective CPD tools is the weekly Twitter #mathscpdchat. The discussions are held on Tuesdays, 7–8pm. They are run by the NCETM and hosted by a variety of teachers. Every week a different topic is discussed and debated, including engaging parents, using play in maths and cognitive load theory.
Find summaries of previous chats and more about how to take part on our #mathscpdchat page.
Podcasts are my new best friend! I’m currently working my way through a CPD book on leadership for a leadership qualification, and I am struggling to find the time to read it with full focus. But a 30-minute podcast means I can learn something on my drive to school! I was fortunate enough to be involved in one of the first NCETM podcasts. It was so exciting to share my views and experiences – and to know the podcast would be heard by many other people.
You can find NCETM podcasts at www.ncetm.org.uk/podcasts.
With all my social media activity, people have started asking me for advice. Recently I was invited by Kathryn Darwin (@Arithmaticks) to help host the first ever national Maths Teach Meet with TMMathsIcons.
This face-to-face conference was created solely through social media. Over 50 people attended, and speakers included @StudyMaths (creator of MathsBot), @c0mplexnumber (creator of artful maths) and authors such as @jemmaths (How to Enhance your Mathematics Subject Knowledge) and @MrMattock (Visible Maths). It was a great, free day to learn from each other and, of course, it was shared all over social media!
Although I still feel there is nothing better than learning from colleagues and experts in a face-to-face CPD session, in this ever-changing world of social media there is certainly a place to develop my own knowledge and share viewpoints with others. It is like having the biggest staffroom of maths teachers!
How do you use social media for your professional development? Tell others in the comments box below!
Read how secondary teacher Kathryn (@Arithmaticks) used the Twitter maths CPD community to help her think about how best to introduce surds to Y8. She also offers seven tips for getting involved in the Twitter maths community.