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Is Great Teaching fun, and frustrating?

Don’t you just love teaching? You can spend your entire career on a fun, highly moral, self-improvement journey and yet, still, no matter how good you get, you can always get better. The truth of perfect teaching is always just outside our grasp; eternally beautiful and eternally frustrating!

Here’s a quick way at looking deeper into the journey towards great teaching.

It’s useful to start with some of the background and foundational aspects of teaching. Being ‘a teacher’ includes simple, and not so simple, everyday routines; taking the register, ensuring students line up smartly, building relationships, giving out resources, timekeeping and so on. Carrying out these tasks can make one feel like ‘a teacher’ without even considering the issue of facilitating learning. Looking back, I’m sure some of the teachers I had at school carved out entire teaching careers based solely on this dimension of ‘teaching’.


But then we get to the issue of actually getting children to learn! This is why the word ‘pedagogy’ exists. It provides a useful distinction from broader teaching, giving us an unavoidable focus on what we can say and do to actualise learning. This includes aspects of teaching that are impactive regardless of the context (age of learners, curriculum subject, socio-economic location etc.). So, here we see teacher behaviours such as clarity of explanation, modelling, scaffolding tasks, effective questioning, responding to learners and so on. Without this pedagogical knowledge there is nothing to build on.

On the other hand, with this pedagogical knowledge in place, we can begin to travel deeper into the specific learning contexts, fine-tuning our teacher behaviours depending on which curriculum content we are trying to get across to which learners. The first place to stop is the curriculum domain. This pedagogical domain knowledge arises from sectioning off a segment of curriculum content through noticing there are intrinsic similarities. Therefore, that content requires a common pedagogical approach, specific to that domain. For example, within the primary maths curriculum we see that the domain of Number Fluency has common pedagogical principles that are different to the ones we would see within the domain of Problem Solving. The number fluency domain has predictable learning outcomes that are best taught explicitly through a direct instruction approach; essentially, a transmission of knowledge from expert to novice. Alternatively, teaching children to problem solve involves more open-ended tasks, looser guidance, less structured lesson trajectory and questioning resulting in more unpredictable outcomes. Teaching number fluency and teaching problem solving is more akin to teaching two different subjects. Leaving them pedagogically undifferentiated, under an umbrella of primary maths, would be a mistake.

We can travel deeper still! When we turn up to ‘teach’ we need more than just pedagogical domain knowledge, we also need to know the sequence of learning that learners are moving along. In fact, for that particular sequence part, we need the complete progression in mind; with no small detail missing. This pedagogical content knowledge is what brings the curriculum intent to life. For example, within the domain of number fluency we can see that for us to teach a child to become fluent with the 3 times multiplication table, and for them to conceptually understand their fluency, we need to take a direct instruction approach. However, this doesn’t tell us the specific line of progression to take (for a high resolution, fully zoomed in, view of this specific pedagogical content knowledge see here). Teacher knowledge at this ‘high-rez’ level is where great teaching lives. Little wonder that the Great Teaching Toolkit starts with ‘Understanding the Content’ as the title of the very first section, and within that their first sub-point is ‘Having deep and fluent knowledge and flexible understanding of the content you are teaching’. However, acquiring this knowledge doesn’t happen overnight, and becoming experienced at teaching each specific sequence part with this knowledge already in place, takes longer still. The journey to Great Teaching isn’t a quick one! However, as with life itself, the enjoyment lies in the quest, the intrigue lies in the ineffable, and the fun springs out of the day-to-day interactions with the great people you meet along the way.


Trust Improvement Lead, North East

I have been hugely impressed by the level of forensic thinking that sits behind WWN. It is far from a simple programme, but rather an approach that is rooted in robust evidence of how number can be taught in a way that is accessible to all pupils. WWN offers a cohesive and evidence-informed approach to teacher-development too. It is clear that WWN has been created by people who understand school leadership, curriculum design, teaching and learning.


Maths Leader, Dubai

Winning With Numbers is easy to use and it clearly shows progress in learning. It is helping to bridge gaps, challenge students and achieve targets in maths across the school. Students and parents are able to follow the learning journey and are eager to complete WINs. There is a real buzz at our school as students achieve their WINs, we are absolutely loving the WWN app! :)


Y3 Teacher, Cardiff

Anything by Ben gets my vote! It is great to see something that has been created by someone who understands children, teachers, workload and numeracy. Through Ben's expertise, I have improved my skills in teaching maths and he has made me want to teach maths rather than fear it. This is exactly what we want for children also.


Maths Leader, Harrogate

The Winning With Numbers training was fantastic, we learned so much and have been really inspired. I'm still blown away with how brilliant the platform is and I'm excited to be getting going with it. It has already made a big difference in our school.


Class Teacher, West Wales

What Ben doesn't know about maths and the way we teach it...!!! His huge amount of expertise and experience has been a game changer for the way we teach maths! His programme makes us think differently about maths and both staff and students now really enjoy teaching and learning in this key subject.


Tutor, Northumberland

I love the simplicity of Winning with Numbers - the focus on putting in place the small building blocks of mastering foundational maths skills, in a very ordered way. I also love how there are ways for a student to review a topic if they feel they need to; giving them some ownership of their learning. This programme is a great addition to my tutoring sessions.


Deputy Headteacher, London

WWN is a highly effective programme that is deeply rooted in the science of learning with the pay off that teacher workload is minimised. It ticks all the boxes! We have seen progress maximised in each session and within a few weeks of teaching WWN.


Home-Educator, South Wales

My daughter is really enjoying Winning With Numbers and it is showing me the gaps she has in her knowledge. It has been really good going back to fill the gaps. She loves getting the celebration videos when she does well. She smiles so much! I never thought it meant this much to her but it definitely does! I would definitely recommend.


Parent, Bridgend

My son is loving it! As a teacher, I know he is getting what he needs and it is great to have something my son can work through on his own. The timer is a really helpful option. He has first built his confidence and then we can add to the challenge by using the timer option. Thank you!


Tutor, Ireland

All the students I work with are loving Winning With Numbers and the 'Be the Expert' videos are brilliant for preparing me for each session.


Partners & Awards

Winning With Numbers works to collaborate with others to improve the life chances of young people.  Winning With Numbers is delighted to partner with some highly effective organisations .  If you would like to partner with us, please do get in touch.