[AMA] I'm a High School Maths Teacher. Ask Me Anything!

I'm a Senior Mathematics Teacher in South East Melbourne.
I've been teaching for 3 years, this is my fourth year on the job, and I absolutely love it.
I teach primarily Year 11 and 12 VCE Maths Methods and Specialist Maths.

Fire away!

closed Comments

  • Have you taught the kids how to use amex cards yet? /s

    But to the point, what's the most enjoyable part about your job do you reckon?

    • AmEx Cards

      I'd actually love to.
      Unfortunately that goes way past the ethical boundary line of professional/personal so I wouldn't dare, unless I didn't want to keep my job.
      In saying that, I can talk about credit cards in general, how they work and the meaning of interest-free days etc.
      I'd love to explain AmEx cards though, I long for the day where it isn't frowned upon!

      Enjoyable parts of the job

      A very far-reaching question there doweyy. I really enjoy multiple aspects of the job:

      • I absolutely love doing maths. I love opening a maths textbook, past exam paper or test and smash out a question or two.
      • I love explaining the way maths concepts work, and using technology such as the TI-Nspire™ CX CAS to visually demonstrate concepts that would be lost without a dynamic analysis.
      • I love seeing other people (in my case, students) understand complicated mathematical concepts.
      • I love working with my colleagues, who are a great bunch of teachers.

      Hope that answers your questions!

      • Thought it would lol, you've got so much knowledge hidden in there, I'm glad we get to see it!

        And that's great to see you've got such a passion, you must love your job mate!

        • Haha thanks for the kind words mate!

        • @MathNerd:

          Wonderful to hear about someone who truly loves their career, is probably excellent at it and betters many in their execution of it.

          Society needs many more teachers like you! I attended the local selective school and most of my teachers were awful. There was one stand-out, my Software teacher, he was fresh out of uni, knowledgeable, interested, creative and engaged. There seemed to be an inverse relationship between age/experience and effort given by my teachers.

          My Extension 2 Maths teacher was the worst! He had a PhD, but couldn't solve our coursework problems. He would regularly turn up at any time from 15 min late to not at all, and then laugh it off by saying that he didn't need to teach us because we were all so smart, *vomit!* Our entire class ended up with Saturday maths tutoring just to learn the course.

        • @Scrooge McDuck: Thanks Scrooge. I do love my career, and I enjoy coming to work every day. I'd never be this happy doing anything else.

      • +1 vote

        Could you please explain cards here? I’m interested!

      • What is your favourite maths topic?

        • I don't have one favourite per se. I love calculus (differentiation, integration and differential equations), but I also love trigonometry and probability. The whole VCE Methods and Specialist curriculum is pretty awesome.

        • @MathNerd: wow thats awesome, do you do maths B and C? Also yeah im like doing exactly what your teaching integration, volume of revolution, differentiation all that jazz…..Im kinda struggling with my exams cause apparently i panic, but my assignments are As. What study techniques do you recommend to help me with my exams?

      • +2 votes

        Can you cook meth?

      • I love your enthusiasm for the job! Engaging teachers on any subject are agents of change for the entire world. I am wondering if you tutor students as I am looking for a tutor?

  • What did you study? I'd like to be a maths teacher but don't want to spend 4 years doing a master of teaching

    • Here's what I did, all my tertiary study was completed at Monash University in Clayton:

      If you want the quickest way to do it, I'd recommend a double degree such as Education and Science. There's no shortcut.

      • Yeah sadly I've already done my bachelors and would need to do a masters. Bring back the dip Ed I say!!

        • Yes, certainly. The Dip Ed can certainly achieve what is needed. A 2 year course is way too long. I do have regrets choosing the Masters when I had the choice of a 1 year Dip Ed (2013 was the last year they offered the Dip Ed).

        • @MathNerd:

          I did a dip ed in 2015 at Latrobe. the ran it for 2016 but that was the last intake at Latrobe.

        • @imtahir7: I see. My experience was specifically with Monash so things are different between universities.

        • @MathNerd:
          Just to add to this, it is possible to do the masters of 1.5 years, accelerated. It's painful, though.

        • @MathNerd:

          yeah different unis cut it off at different times

          how did you find the process from going provisional to fully registered?

          I hear its a decent amount of work.

          some people tell me its difficult others say its not too bad. I still have to do that.

        • @0lllllll0: I can imagine. I wouldn't accelerate, it's too much stress.

        • @imtahir7: I found the process long and tiring, I had to type up a massive report, and I haven't looked at it since submitting it. A lot of work went into it.

      • -8 votes

        That's two degrees, not three.

        I count, therefore i am.

        • Could you elaborate?

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks:

          LOL. Yes there is. It's called an honours degree.

          Australian Honours degree is a one year research program, after the completion of a Bachelor's degree in the same field. Source

          In Australia an Honours Degree is an extra year of study on top of a three year Bachelor course. Source

          Maybe you could benefit from an honours degree.. you clearly don't understand how to conduct research.

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks: keep up with this kind of comments and soon your username will checkout.

        • @field1985: I've tried upvoting you but my upvoting has been capped due to OzB restrictions. My sincerest apologies.

        • @sky blu: Indeed, sky blu.

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks: I think your spaceship turned left instead of right!

        • -17 votes

          @field1985: You've reference Wikipedia. You do understand anyone can mod that don't you?

          @sky blu: Oh a MathNerd fanboy. You two should get a room.

          @MathNerd: In certain contexts you would get into serious trouble professionally claiming three degrees when you have two. Honours is simply an extension to the base science degree. It's not a stand-alone degree in its own right. I'm astounded you don't seem to understand that.

          @Wystri Warrick: Some computer coding errors cost serious money.

        • https://www.aqf.edu.au/sites/aqf/files/bachelor-honours-degr...

          "The Bachelor Honours Degree can be achieved as either a stand-alone Bachelor Honours Degree following the completion of a Bachelor Degree"

          The government department that sets the standards for degrees considers it a separate degree.

          Or can their website be edited like wikipedia as well?

        • -9 votes

          @shtgnjns: Yes it does say that, though it's a bit of a farce given it's the same University. But sure, let him put BSc(ScSchProg), BSc(ScSchProg)(Hons), MTeach(Sec) on his CV and see what it gets him. Universal ridicule is what he'll get.

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks: Someone needs a hug

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks: I understand your point, and can see why you have that viewpoint, it certainly isnt worth the comprehensive downvoting you are getting… but MathNerd never actually stated 'I have three degrees', they just listed the programs they completed on the way to becoming a teacher, along with timeframes, in response to a specific question. The titles themselves are from Monash university.

          They should list their honours separately on their CV imo, many degrees these days have 'inbuilt' honours with no extra time required, they just replace electives with a research techniques and 'research project' unit. A standalone honours year requires a thesis and are weighted much higher in applications for PhDs. My 2c only, but I certainly wouldn't ridicule an applicant for listing it separately.



          I've been on interview panels assessing guys like this and listing all three would be at least frowned upon. In terms of his listing, at first i didn't think he was counting three, but using the word 'degree' within the second item at least suggested that, but once he asked me to elaborate it was clear he was counting it separately. My new reviewed improved most recent position is he probably has three, though if that's correct it shouldn't be the case. That's Monash Uni being tools - something usually reserved for those outside the Group of 8.

          While i didn't say, i'm always on the lookout for those that hype their backgrounds, and he's also identified himself as a 'Senior Mathematics Teacher' - well he's being a bit tricky there given you can have a true 'Senior' teacher with that title, and simply a teacher that teaches more senior levels (Year 11/12). He's almost certainly the latter, and that was part of what kicked me off.

          BTW apart from that the OP sounds fine - he's obviously keen and appears well suited to what he's doing. However historically teaching has had a lot of trouble retaining teachers qualified to teach maths/physics/chemistry etc as they usually move on to something else after a few years. Requiring a 2-years Masters is also a joke - they do need some teacher training, but not that much. I think Melb Uni started that crap, and others followed - anything to collect more fees. Uni's never saw a dollar they didn't like.

          Note i've probably spent more years at Uni than pretty much everyone here, including the OP, but i'm not about to list what i've collected. And of course i need a hug, but only because Diana is away from the Skull Cave. I'm impervious to negs, esp by pimply international students which many of these guys would be. I haven't tried to neg any comment.

          The Ghost Who Walks

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks:

          Have you notified the Qualification Police yet?

        • @TheGhostWhoWalks: I see where you're coming from - I have an Honours degree and would never have thought to list it separately. My wife has a Masters and lists it separately from the Bachelors that it follows on with, which always seemed a bit odd to me as well.

      • What is your favourite Physics topic other than Astrophysics?

        And what is your favourite Astrophysics topic?

        • My favourite physics topic is Motion (Projectile Motion, Circular Motion, and all the other Motion topics in the VCE Physics curriculum).
          My favourite Astrophysics topic is Relativity and Cosmology (I was even a "tutor"/"demonstrator" for this subject ASP3051, which is a third year unit which I completed in second year).

      • Hi OP,

        Can you please put your tertiary study information into the Description section above?

      • Which years did you walk the halls of Monash Clayton (or rather lay on the lemon scented lawn)? I was there studying BioMed Sci from 2006 - 09.

        • I camped in the Airport Lounge, and in the Advanced Science Students room (close to the Chemistry building). I started uni in 2009 and was there all the way until 2014. 6 long years of Monash wisdom!

        • @MathNerd: Ah damn, 2009 was my last year at the Clayton Campus and by then I didn't hang around much. I was kinda hoping we had previously met.

        • @sween64: That would've been awesome if we met! Our paths did eventually cross though, here on OzB :) Better than nothing I guess haha!

      • A year doing partial differential equations!
        I remembering doing differential and integral by parts, and had fun doing it… But to do it for a whole year.

        Mad props, mate.
        The things you studied looks like a fun course to take.

        I'm actually a BS Math… Though my major is computer science :P

        • Good stuff mate, haha I did have fun during my time at uni, but not as much fun as I'm having right now teaching VCE Maths!

      • your recommendation is the quickest way…but I feel the expertise in studying a particular area makes for a better teacher. A B.A. or B SC. is must I think. I guess everyone over values their own pathway into a career. How do you feel about that? did the B SC and hons give you content knowledge which has improved your teaching?

        • I think a maths minor should be the bare minimum required to be a maths teacher. When you qualify to become a maths teacher, a school is taking you on with the knowledge that you know your maths, and can teach a Year 7 Maths class or a Year 12 Specialist Maths class. There's no "I'm not comfortable with these year levels can you please give me only Year x, y, z", schools are too constrained to give everyone their wishes straight off the bat.
          The reasoning behind a maths minor being a bare minimum is I think that a competent maths teacher:
          1) Knows the course they are teaching inside out
          2) Can assist students who are keen and want to extend their knowledge a bit further
          3) Can find new and exciting ways to deliver lessons with concepts and information that is easily understandable by the average student

          Now a maths minor can't really guarantee 3), but that's because your personality needs to be compatible with being a teacher.

          I find that my maths major (Applied Maths) hasn't really helped in terms of what I'm teaching (the content), but it did showcase the vast ability that maths has and how fluid it can be. I've certainly had many interesting discussions with students regarding their desire to exceed the knowledge that they've gained from the concepts in the study design.

    • What did you study? I'd like to be a maths teacher but don't want to spend 4 years doing a master of teaching

      You could be an internet maths teacher!!

      The pay sucks though. :/

  • Is there a reason why we have never seen you and WatchNerd in the same room together?

  • +6 votes

    Ask Me Anything!

    Does wearing lingerie and high heels make you feel sexy and desirable?

  • +1 vote

    A Doctor of Mathematics told me a good mathematician is a lazy mathematician. Do you agree?

    • Not necessarily. I believe a good mathematician works hard and explains things well.

      In saying this though, I do feel underqualified to answer this question, as I'm not a mathematician. I believe that a mathematician researches the discipline, looking for new theories, etc. I, however, simply teach what is already known (in some cases, what's been known for centuries!). I don't have the writ or grit to be a "mathematician", I've found that what I do best is taking something known and true, and explaining it using various techniques that help the student understand it completely.

      • +10 votes

        At our first lesson, Dr John Ridd said "If I explain something and you don't understand it, that is my fault. But only if you tell me you don't understand. I can find 10, 12, 15 different ways of explaining something mathematical. But if you don't tell me you don't understand, then it is your fault."

        • Haha, words to live by.
          Yes, I certainly agree. If I've explained something and nobody has raised a question, I have no choice but to assume that my explanation has made sense and I can move on.


          I don't understand.
          I don't understand the obsession with Matte Black.

        • @MathNerd:

          If I've explained something and nobody has raised a question, I have no choice but to assume that my explanation has made sense and I can move on.

          But don't you think it prudent to check-in for feedback?

          Our society is full of people who lack initiative, students included.

        • @Scrooge McDuck: Yes, I do. I always pause when I make a big step in logic or mathematical understanding and ask if it all makes sense and if there's any questions. I don't like leaving anyone behind in a sea of misunderstanding.

        • @MathNerd:

          Well done on recognising your strengths and playing this important role.

          As a tutor myself, I have learner never to take yes for an answer to 'does this make sense?'.

          I keep asking questions until they demonstrate they understand, sometimes I ask them to explain it back to me.

          Do you use this technique in the classroom? Or is there just no time as you're dealing with a large group?

        • @MathNerd:
          I'm still swimming in that sea.

      • Yes I agree. Our Maths B teacher(queensland) was a qualified special ed teacher. No mathematical qualifications…he did Maths B and C at school and was just a dedicated and capable guy. Excellent teacher. Looking back I suppose we had a maths department/principal who was ok with someone teaching outside of their area. I suppose if you're learning something new you might impart that knowledge more effectively, while an 'expert' might not be that good at transferring the information. I think in this case he was very capable and adept at mathematics anyway.

    • -1 vote

      Correct - they seek the shortest and most elegant path to a solution, and if they're any good, they often can.

  • Welcome to the club. I am also a secondary Maths teacher, in my 18th year of teaching (mostly in remote and regional areas of NSW).

  • I've always wanted to be a teacher but I know someone who always complains about the out of school hours. How are they? And as a teacher, what do you think of tutors?