Which qualities did aspiring teachers value in their ‘best’ mathematics teachers?

Lewis, Gareth and Forsythe, Sue (2012). Which qualities did aspiring teachers value in their ‘best’ mathematics teachers? Teacher Education Network Journal, 4(3) pp. 46–58.

Abstract

When aspiring mathematics teachers were asked to describe one of their own mathematics teachers who had made an impact on them it was found that personal attributes such as empathy, caring and commitment to their students were mentioned most often. This study uses Gossman’s categories of ‘teacher as teacher’ and ‘teacher as person’ to analyse the descriptions of best teachers given by people who were being interviewed for the Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Secondary Mathematics at our Institution. The aim of this study is to add to the growing body of literature which indicates the value of teachers’ personal attributes and how important these can be for student motivation and confidence in mathematics. These attributes are hardly mentioned in lists of teacher competencies compiled as part of Government standards for teachers.

We expected that aspiring mathematics teachers, since they are most likely to have been successful at mathematics themselves, would feel positively about mathematics and their mathematics teachers. However a surprising finding from the data was that even successful students occasionally experienced disaffection.

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