22 December 2018

2018 Highlights

Last weekend I recorded a podcast with Craig Barton to celebrate my 100th gems post. I love the way @boss_maths described it: "So informative and entertaining, listening to this felt uncannily like listening to TMS as a cricket fan"! You can listen here and see what you think. The conversations we had in the podcast made me realise how much happens in a year. In this post I look back at 2018 and list some of my personal highlights, and look ahead to what's coming up in 2019.

The start of 2018 saw the publication of Craig's book How I Wish I'd Taught Maths. I can't believe that was only a year ago! Having read the book in advance I knew it was going to be a huge success, but I couldn't have predicted how much impact it would have on the maths education community. It's not just the teachers of Twitter who have told me how much their teaching has changed since reading Craig's book. I go into lots of different types of schools and see both new and experienced teachers trying example-problem pairs, silent teacher and other techniques that I probably wouldn't have seen at all in 2017. These teachers are keen to tell me how much Craig's book has made them more reflective, and how entire departments are now taking more interest in research and seeking to improve their practice.

Thankfully, opportunities for maths teachers to take control of their own professional development have continued to grow. We still live in times where most schools are unable to support requests for term-time subject specific CPD, but increasingly we are able to attend CPD at the weekends if we choose to. Of course weekend CPD is not suitable for everyone, so thankfully it remains entirely optional. I adore being part of the community of hundreds of maths teachers who participate in these events and am very grateful to the organisers for regularly bringing us all together.

In 2018 I attended three of La Salle's national maths conferences and loved every minute. If you're a maths teacher and you want to try some Saturday CPD for the first time, do check out the 2019 events (visit mathsconf.com for details). The next one takes place in Bristol on Saturday 9th March.

At the Manchester conference I presented on indices, and at the Birmingham conference I presented on quadratics.
If you missed these presentations then you  might be able to catch me presenting them again next year. I'm presenting Indices in Depth at the ATM/MA London Branch event on 19th January and How to Solve an Adfected Quadratic at the #HabsGirlsConf on 23rd March.

I will also be presenting new material at a number of events in 2019, including Educating Northants on 30th March, the ATM/MA conference at Easter, and both ResearchED Rugby and the MEI conference in June. There are loads more maths education events happening in 2019 - check out my conference listings here.

In addition to the La Salle conferences, I was fortunate to attend a number of excellent events in 2018. It was an honour to deliver the keynote presentation at the BBO Maths Hub secondary conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed the second JustMaths conference which took place at Alton Towers in the middle of the summer heat wave.
David Faram, me and Craig Barton on the rapids

I also attended my first ever residential maths education conference at Easter. BCME (the British Congress of Mathematics Education) only takes place every four years so it was quite a big deal. I loved it - not only for the CPD, but also for the social programme (did I mention that we won the quiz?!). I also very much enjoyed recording a daily conference podcast with Craig in which we reflected on the sessions we'd attended that day. I can't wait for the upcoming ATM/MA conference which takes place in the Easter holidays - there's a ceilidh, a quiz and a disco! And the daily podcast will be back. 

2018 was the year that I became a bit braver. I often turn down exciting opportunities, normally because of family commitments but sometimes because I think I won't do a good job. After turning down the opportunity to appear in an advertising campaign for Mazda at Easter, I kicked myself for weeks and resolved that I should stop saying no to things. So when I was invited to take part in the Big Internet Math Off, I said yes. And later in the year I also said yes to presenting at the MathsJam Annual Gathering, and to contributing to Craig's 'Slice of Advice' podcasts. In all three cases women were underrepresented, not through the fault of the organisers but because more women did not take the opportunity to participate. This made realise how important it is to keep saying yes, even to things I find a bit scary. I can't complain about women being underrepresented if I say no to everything!

Another first for me in 2018 was having two articles published in print for the first time. My article on indices published in Teach Secondary magazine in October, and a month later my article on the order of operations was published. I'm still chuffed about these articles.

My blog posts have been increasingly influenced by the research I have been doing through old maths textbooks. Blog posts I am particularly proud of from the last year include my posts on ratio, bounds, surds, algebraic LCM and HCF, and Year 7 maths activities. Check out my blog archive to see the whole collection.

Every year I host a social event for maths teachers. This year it was LateMaths - a big party in London to celebrate the launch of More Geometry Snacks by Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni. It was a great night and I am very grateful to everyone who helped me make it a success.

I have lots of ideas for events I'd like to run in future. In July I'm hoping that Rob Smith and I will run an event which (fingers crossed!) will involve a trip to the amazing MA archive at the University of Leicester. I'd also love to run a two day residential maths education conference at the same venue as the MathsJam Annual Gathering. It's a shame I don't have the time and money to run events more often because I really enjoy it.

What will 2019 bring? If you haven't already read Craig's book, perhaps give it a go. If you've never been to a La Salle maths conference, maybe 2019 is the time to try one. If you've not done one of the big Easter conferences, this might be the year to come along. If you've never listened to a podcast, have a go and see if you like it. If you're not on Twitter, consider joining. We're a very welcoming maths community, and we're stronger together.

We live in exciting but incredibly challenging times for maths teachers. I can't wait to see what 2019 brings.

I'll leave you with some of my favourite photos from 2018.

With my old PGCE buddy Colin Hegarty
 at GLF's first annual maths conference

With ex-colleagues Lizzie, Amelia and Sarah at prom 

Recording a conference podcast with Craig

At MathsJam with friends Mariana, Ed, Tim and Joe

Summer drinks at Dr Frost's house. 

With Megan Guinan at a Chalkdust Magazine Launch Party

Celebrating three new books and one new job with my Twitter besties
Craig, Ed and Tom at #mathsconf14 in Kettering

On the MA bookstand with Rob Smith
 at #mathsconf15 in Manchester

At BCME with Ed, Craig and Hannah Fry

At LateMaths with Matt Parker and Ben Sparks

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year everyone!


  1. Thank you for a wonderful year. Happy christmas from Israel

  2. I always find your blog very interesting. Thanks for the share.