During the October holidays, Head of Mathematics, Dr Marina Alexander and Mathematics Teachers, Mrs Alison Gonscak and Mr Ian Cameron, travelled to Christchurch to attend the biennial New Zealand Association of Mathematics Teachers (NZAMT) conference hosted by The Canterbury Mathematical Association. The Conference took place at the newly constructed St Margaret’s College campus.
The motto for the conference was ‘Back to the Future’ rallying delegates to be motivated, challenged and inspired. Deliberately broad, the conference theme offered speakers and delegates an opportunity to be both reflective and future-looking, to consolidate, regenerate and push the boundaries of mathematics and statistics education.
Dr Alexander, Mrs Gonscak and Mr Cameron reflect on their experience.
“I submitted an abstract for a presentation about teaching Level 1 and 2 Statistics in New Zealand schools and was wondering if other teachers would find the topic interesting. Just before departing I found out 60 teachers had signed up for my workshop, which was pleasant news. This was one of the biggest workshops at the conference after plenary presentations as the average number of attendees at workshops was 25. The presentation went well and we had really productive discussions.
The quality of workshops I attended was outstanding. The passion and enthusiasm was contagious and meeting people who were willing to share the best of their teaching strategies was invaluable. I am grateful to our Senior Leadership Team and Board of Trustees who gave us an opportunity to experience this wonderful Professional Development. We all brought with us some ideas, which we will try in our classroom and share with each other.”
Dr Marina Alexander, Head of Mathematics
“It was the first NZAMT Conference I had been to. Admittedly, I was initially hesitant to venture to Christchurch over the holiday period, considering my own children and some downtime. However, it was totally worth it. I really enjoyed the experience of spending time with so many people who are passionate about mathematics and passionate about developing, exploring and improving mathematics teaching and learning.
There were so many sessions to choose from with such a high calibre of speakers and educators. A highlight for me was a session called Tackling Maths Anxiety In Young Women which feeds directly into my own personal interest in how thoughts can construct or destroy the memory building process and associated learning capabilities. I enjoyed the sessions on coding and using the Sphero Robot, which is a very engaging and fun learning tool.
It was interesting to hear how other schools are progressing with personalised learning structures and I look forward to following their external results early next year. Not only did I learn a huge amount from the speakers and workshop presenters but I made new friends from other regions and also got to know our local mathematics teachers better. I am thankful and grateful that I was able to go to the NZAMT Conference and be part of such an awesome professional development opportunity.”
Mrs Alison Gonscak, Mathematics Teacher
“Unfortunately in the world of Mathematics teachers, if you do not live in Auckland, then professional development opportunities are rather limited. So the conference was a great experience with so many passionate presenters offering insightful ideas and strategies into curriculum delivery. Often the techniques that didn’t work and the possible reasons why were as useful as the ones that did.
It was quite refreshing thinking about your role in learning and teaching and how you deliver certain aspects of it in a totally different environment without the usual stresses and time constraints. I would like to thank the Board of Trustees and Mrs Julie Peterson for allowing us the opportunity to broaden our mathematical horizons.”
Mr Ian Cameron, Mathematics Teacher