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At Baden Powell College they want to see 100% of their students succeeding.
Teaching is a passionate profession. Our most memorable teachers are always those whose passion was so tangible that it ignited our own love of learning and as a result teaching.
At Baden Powell College, the Head of Maths, Liam Clifford, is one such passionate teacher.
His love of maths combined with his teaching ethos means he has the kind of passion you can feel when you talk to him.
“I want to be the kind of teacher that can help every student in my class not just achieve success in the sense of getting a good test score, but in the sense of believing that they’re actually capable of doing this.” said Liam
For Liam, teaching is about more than just grades, it’s about showing his students they’re all capable of achieving success whatever their academic standing.
However, for Liam to achieve this he knew that conventional teaching methods just weren’t going to cut it. He soon realised that differentiation in his classroom would be the key to his success and as a result his students’ too.
“I found out pretty early that differentiation in my classroom was going to be really important to me as a teacher and to the students.” said Liam.
“I didn’t want just my top 20% of students to get success, and having 80% of your students not at the expected level based on their age is really deflating.” Liam continued.
That’s when Liam set out on a mission to differentiate the whole Yr 5-9 curriculum for each of his students (we told you he was passionate). His aim was to provide his students with work that they were ready for, and could therefore see success in. Through a lot of blood, sweat and spreadsheets, Liam managed to create a Google Sheets document that had differentiated activities for each student. However, due to the sheer volume of data needed, Liam spent more time collecting the data than using it. He also found that he had no way to assess the previous gaps in students’ knowledge. As a result he was unable to help the students understand more basic concepts that would in turn allow them to grasp harder topics.
“One of the main issues was that we didn’t have a way to collect data efficiently. So we were using a lot of teacher judgement to estimate where the students were in the curriculum and any gaps in their knowledge.” Liam explained.
After devoting his holidays, weekends, evenings and free periods to collecting and curating all of his differentiated data, Liam finally found Maths Pathway.
“To tell you the truth, initially I was a little disappointed. How many hours have I spent doing this when it’s already there?” joked Liam.
The Maths Pathway model starts by diagnosing where each individual student is across the entire maths curriculum. Students are then delivered content that they’re ready for. This ‘Goldilocks’ content, that’s not too hard and not too easy, spans the entire curriculum enabling students to fill the gaps in their knowledge that previously had been almost impossible to assess.
Maths Pathway also ensures this real time, actionable data is available at Liam’s finger tips, meaning he can get back to his real passion – teaching.
Now Liam can increase his face to face time with students who need his help, knowing that every other student in his class is working at their individual level.
“My role has changed, definitely. I spend a lot less time collecting data and more time using it, making me much more effective.” said Liam.
With the students finally achieving success at their level, the results speak for themselves. Infact, prior to implementing Maths Pathway, Liam’s class was averaging 0.5 years growth every school year. Now, they’re averaging 1.6 years worth of growth across the class, with one student even completing the curriculum up to level 10A.
What’re more, Maths Pathway has allowed Liam to channel his passion for maths and teaching again.
“Maths is beautiful and maths is fun and maths is interesting,” said Liam “And now, I’m getting a lot more satisfaction out of my job because my students are having a lot more success, and they have the opportunity to see the joy and beauty of mathematics.”
Giving students ownership of their success is powerful
“It not only teaches them Maths but it teaches them to be problem solvers, to be organised and to take ownership. Our school is achieving over 1.5 years of growth average from our students in Mathematics per school year, something that would have been a pipe dream without the Maths Pathway Teaching and Learning Model.”
– Liam Clifford
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