Maths Renaissance At Saints

July 15, 2022 | Campus | Author: Dr Adrienne Watson, Head: Education Research & Innovation

One of the things that sets St Stithians apart from other independent schools in South Africa is that, across all eight schools, we have a deep pool of collective intelligence and expertise on which to draw.   

In June, we decided to put this to the test and get all our Heads of Schools, Mathematics teachers, student interns, Academic Support staff, Digital Learning Coaches and Educational Psychologists, as well as our Director of Transformation, into Mears Hall for a day to do a deep dive into the Mathematical learning journeys of our students from Grade RR to Matric, and to look at the challenges our Thandulwazi students face in their quest to master Maths. 

The core focus of the day was on addressing conceptual backlogs in a personalised way for each student. 

The staff were intentionally grouped so that representatives from each school and educational phase were seated together to share their experience and vision from their perspective.  So, around one table, there were teachers from Grade RR in the Junior Prep, grade teachers from the Boys’ and Girls’ Preps, specialist Mathematics teachers and Heads of Department from the Girls’ and Boys’ Colleges, both in the GET and FET phases, our Digital Learning Coaches and Academic Support staff.  Thandulwazi Saturday school teachers also contributed valuable knowledge. Where possible, Ed Psychs were included.  Our Head of Transformation, Mme Noma Shange, attended to listen to the debates around differentiation in student achievement.  

Other objectives for the day were to envision, re-imagine, and craft, the entire student Maths learning journey to gain a deeper understanding of how to enhance student experience.  Each Head or their academic teams presented on their vision for Maths in their schools.  Added to this were staff conversations guided by our Heads of Maths departments across the groups and facilitated discussions and inputs by external experts from a local Maths EdTech company, Reflective Learning, and a live-stream in from Maths Pathways, an Australian EdTech company serving over 300 schools in Australia over the last ten years.  Topics of group discussion ranged from the concrete to the abstract as our Maths experts and grade specific teachers debated the demands learning Maths makes on individual students across different stages of cognitive and socio-emotional development.  Understanding the alignment between the core concepts students are required to learn while at school and, the development of metacognition, was a key focus 

The Maths Renaissance Day ended with the staff in each of the fifteen groups creating an infographic of the ideal Maths learning journey at Saints.  The next step is to work with all this valuable information to ensure our students’ experience of learning Maths at Saints is seamless, rigorous - and fun.  We look forward to hosting other such focus days as we harness The Power of Eight. 

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