Marist teacher wins scholarship for intervention program

The opportunity to help and positively influence people every day is what drew Matthew Millikin to teaching.

The Marist College early career teacher’s dedication has been recognised with an Early Career Teaching Scholarship from Schools Plus Australia this month.

“The chance to share my passion and expertise is an amazing feeling, and one that I knew I would enjoy,” Matthew said.

“The winners receive a one-on-one coaching program over the next 12 months, as well as a group study tour within Australia. Additionally, having the opportunity to fund further professional development for myself is an amazing opportunity.”

Through his natural curiosity, the mathematics teacher created a pioneering intervention program that has helped students embrace maths in new ways and has positively impacted his students’ approach to the subject as well as their results.

“It started as a small group of Year 7 and 8 students who we had identified had a range of gaps in maths, whether it was simply from missing a bit of school or misunderstanding a key concept at some point,” Matthew explained.

“The idea was that we would systematically address the skill gaps of the group in an afterschool session once a week. As we continued, the sessions changed naturally as we tweaked with what was working or not working.”

Through the program, it was identified that the perception of the subject, and the students’ ability in the subject was a significant issue, alongside any skill gaps they might have.

“Where it ended up is that the afterschool program not only addresses the specific skill gaps students might have, but also practices the ‘soft skills’ of mathematics such as their perception of their ability, their resilience and the language they use to describe the subject and their progress in the subject,” Matthew said.

READ ALSO:  Getting ‘whammed’: Father Michael Lim’s journey to the Catholic faith

“Additionally, we try to keep the program fun and engaging in order to celebrate the successes of the students involved.”

Matthew’s role in the first year was to plan and deliver the sessions.

“In the second year, I have also taken on the coordination of the parents and students, as well as the management of the data and progress that we see from the program,” he said.

“We are still measuring what the difference of such a program might be in the long run, however if it has made just one student more comfortable and passionate about mathematics it will have been a success.”

During the two years the program has run so far, Matthew has seen positive impacts to students’ language, results and engagement with the subject.

“It has been amazing to be given the opportunity to try and be innovative with the program, so it has also positively influenced my teaching practice in the classroom,” he said.