In March, I had the pleasure of attending MathsConf31, an annual conference organized by La Salle Complete Maths. One of the sessions that stood out to me was Jason Gottfried’s presentation on using coloured counters to teach prime numbers, which was both inspiring and innovative. As a tutor, I found it extremely useful in engaging my students and making math fun. I was even invited to talk about my experience on Dave Taylor’s Teaching Together podcast.
Join us in celebrating Neurodiversity and the unique talents and strengths of individuals with neurological differences. Discover the importance of assistive technology, including speech-to-text conversion and audiobooks, in helping those with Dyslexia to succeed. Learn about Executive Functions and the impact of Dyslexia beyond just English. Explore the importance of understanding and support for those who are Neurodiverse, and embrace self-acceptance for success. Join the movement and celebrate Neurodiversity with us!
These delightful little drawings were done for me on our BitPapers, by a 9-year-old pupil who I have now been teaching online for a month. She came to me with severe Maths Anxiety and was unable to cope with Maths at her school. She was deep into a cycle of anxiety. A couple of sessions in, she is laughing, joking, and happily drawing me pictures and engaging well with our Maths lesson. A complete change in her feelings towards maths in less than a month!
What magic have I managed to do, you may well be asking? No magic, just loads of empathy and other strategies which help bring down the anxiety and the barriers to learning and have enabled her to start to enjoy Maths and learning again.
So, now you know that Working Memory is a big issue for most people who are Neurodiverse, what can you do to help?
Knowing that someone will find it harder than average to listen and to hold onto information and then manipulate numbers or words or ideas in their heads, there are many ways to mitigate this issue, and none of them are particularly complicated. Some strategies are done by adding in extra senses to support poor Working Memory and bring down the Cognitive Load or by giving them extra time to think. As the brain can learn and change, what we call Neuroplasticity, we can add strategies that help improve the Working Memory too.
A few minor adjustments will make so much difference to that child you are teaching or colleague or client you are working with.
Snakes. Who loves snakes? Certainly not me! I have always been scared and rather phobic about them, and I can feel my heart beating faster at the mere thought.
But this afternoon, I spent about 30 minutes discussing snakes: species, ways of caring for them and breeding them. This did not put me in my comfort zone at all!
However, my Neurodiverse, highly Maths Anxious, and chronically disengaged pupil absolutely loves snakes and has three of them!
My role is so much more than just delivering Maths content; it is about empowering children to feel better about themselves and get themselves in the right mindset to start to learn.
Next lesson, I am sure she will be less anxious and will be able to trust me, relax and be more able to engage with her learning. So half an hour of snake talk for me will have been more than worth it!
This week I will be joining Charlotte Watson of Wonderlearn English to record an interview which will be released the following week as part of Children’s Mental Health Week. This is a topic very close to my heart, so when Charlotte approached me to participate in this event, I jumped at the chance to spread the word!