Using a Risp: What Can Go Wrong...
5. "I am not confident with the maths on this one..."
We are told endlessly that the nation is short of maths teachers.
There have been some laudable efforts to address this fact, notably the MEI Teaching Advanced Mathematics project,
where maths teachers who have not taught beyond GCSE before are given the skills and knowledge to take the step up to teaching A Level.
Now it is certainly true that the traditional Theory-Consolidation lesson
is 'safer' for a fledgling A Level teacher than the Risp-Theory-Consolidation kind of lesson.
Should someone whose background in mathematics is less extensive take a risk over the improvisation a risp involves?
I guess some risps are riskier than others!
It is hard for anyone to teach a risp 'blind'.
I certainly think that a good 'traditional' lesson is better than a bad 'risp' lesson.
If the risp goes off the rails somehow and the teacher does not have the experience to get it back on track, the class can be left feeling confused and unhappy.
On the other hand, a series of lessons where nothing unexpected ever happens
will surely bore your students to death eventually.
There must be an element of improvisation in everybody's teaching to keep the educational process alive.
I think it is perfectly in order to say to students,
"Now I should tell you I have never done this activity with a group before."
They will feel a little special and be forgiving if there is the occasional hiccup.
I can truly say I have never come out of a risp-lesson
seeing the activity in the same light.
Students always suggest different facets to the task.
This means I go into the lesson curious, hungry to see what will be suggested.
And if I am feeling that way, might that not be infectious?