Why this maths teacher dresses as a Christmas cracker

One college has a maths teacher who dons Christmas fancy dress every year – and it has a big impact, says the principal
13th December 2020, 9:00am
Jackie Galbraith

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Why this maths teacher dresses as a Christmas cracker

https://www.tes.com/magazine/teaching-learning/secondary/why-maths-teacher-dresses-christmas-cracker
This College Teacher Dresses Up As A Christmas Tree, Snowman & Cracker To Spread Festive Cheer Among Her Learners

Despite restrictions caused by the pandemic, some students at West Lothian College are able to enjoy campus-based learning. When I am on campus, I look forward to catching up with students and staff to find out how things are going.

One day last week, I was making my way to an access-to-teaching class where students were having a maths tutorial with lecturer Suzanne McGurl. Typically, students on this course are intimidated by maths, but need to achieve the qualification to be accepted on to teaching degrees at university. But as I approached the classroom, I heard laughter - not a sound too commonly associated with a maths lesson.


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I opened the door to find the students engaged in a lively, interactive tutorial on factorising - with a snowwoman! Suzanne is a legend at West Lothian College and it is a Christmas tradition that she dons a different festive costume each day, wearing it while she teaches her classes and goes about her business across the campus.

Christmas outfits that bring fun to college

Last week alone, she was an elf on Monday, a Christmas tree on Tuesday, a cracker on Wednesday, a snowwoman on Thursday and Mrs Santa Claus on Friday (that could be a verse in a certain Craig David song!)

College lecturer dresses up for Christmas

Suzanne loves her students, goes out of her way to help them succeed in their studies, and injects a large dose of happiness and fun into the college. She does all of this brilliantly, with students and staff pouring praise on her efforts.

She told me that she has been dressing up at Christmas for three years. It had started as a way of cheering up a student who did not like Christmas, and she had then found it cheered up not just that one student. Her efforts get bigger every year and she says she loves how it makes people smile. "I just love my job and doing this is an added bonus, as it brings smiles to people's faces," she says.

College lecturer dresses up for Christmas The laughter in the classroom, however, wasn't down to their lecturer being dressed up, it was an expression of confidence in a successful and fun lesson. After the class, student and aspiring teacher Sophie McKenzie contacted me to say maths was something she struggled with at school and she didn't get the grades she needed. Finding out she couldn't progress on to teaching without it filled her with dread and pressure.

College lecturer dresses up for Christmas "After the first couple of classes with Suzanne, those feelings were instantly gone," says Sophie. "If it wasn't for Suzanne, I wouldn't be at the stage I am now with maths. Two assessments with 100 per cent - I can honestly say I could not have achieved that without her support.

"I've never met someone who gives so much time, dedication and support to their students. Her class really is a happy place to be. I've gone from having zero confidence in maths to feeling like I actually have a chance in doing well. This wouldn't have been the case without Suzanne.

"I look forward to my maths classes with Suzanne. If you go into class feeling deflated for whatever reason, I can assure you when you leave that classroom you are filled with positivity and belief."

College lecturer dresses up for Christmas According to the student, maths with Suzanne is never a scary place - it's a happy one. Learners love the energy and positivity that Suzanne brings to her classes - which they aim to emulate when they have their own class as a teacher.  

The most common phrase expressed by her colleagues and students at the college is that seeing Suzanne "brightens up their day". This is great fun in normal times - but in the run-up to a festive break unlike any other ever experienced by students and staff, it injects some much-needed light into our days. 

Jackie Galbraith is principal and chief executive of West Lothian College

 

 

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