Take the lead
Being a maths champion is normally the job of the subject leader for maths even though all teachers share the responsibility. An effective maths lead instills confidence in others by being bold, innovative and resourceful. They also have an ability to build strong relationships with others and are highly knowledgeable. They are the go-to person who may not have all the answers, but they know where to find them!
In the Teaching Leaders report ‘Firing on all cylinders‘ (2016) the ‘think-and-action tank’ LKMco pool the evidence surrounding what makes an effective middle leader (i.e. subject leaders, middle managers, heads of department, curriculum coordinators). They concluded that although there is no off the shelf best model, the broad consensus from Ofsted and academic research says that effective middle leaders:
have a clearly thought through, clearly communicated and ambitious vision
their vision-setting is underpinned by accurate and careful evaluations on areas for development
are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their field
encourage exploration and innovation, both in curriculum planning and amongst their team members
are strong leaders and have an ability to confidently delegate tasks as a ‘leading professional’ and build a culture of collegiality, where there is frequent dialogue, sharing professional information and best practice.
These qualities remind me, in part, of the five Es described by Caroline Bentley-Davies in her book ‘How to be an Amazing Teacher‘ (2010), namely Enthusiasm, Expertise, Empathy, Empowerment and Enterprise. They also remind me of the 7 habits of highly effective teachers as identified by Jackie Beere in ‘The Perfect Teacher’ (2013): self-management, reflective practice, flexibility, optimism, empathy, courage and resilience and collaboration.
Champions promote maths confidence because they believe they’re making a difference, they have high expectations, they take personal responsibility, set huge goals and they collaborate to grow. They inspire confidence by understanding the impact they can have, by building capacity and being positive as a mentor and coach to colleagues and pupils.
Before bar models we need role models and to truly inspire maths confidence we need all teaching staff to be maths champions so that every child has a positive experience of maths throughout their school education.