Admissions for 2023 - 2024 school year are open

David McColgan

Mathematics Teacher

Maths was not my favourite subject at school (that was Geography) nor the one I found the easiest (which was music) but it was the one I seemed to have a knack for explaining to my friends who didn’t understand the lesson. After the teacher finished his lesson, my classmates would often turn to me and ask for help. I would repeat what the teacher had just told us and they would seem to understand from me what they hadn’t understood from him. I had the same maths teacher for my final 5 years in high school, Mr Campbell, and I thought his explanations were excellent and engaging. He was kind and patient and always wanted us to understand why the formulas worked and where in the real world the maths had its application. Although I usually understood new concepts quickly I had to put real effort into remembering them all for exams and practice regularly to be able to complete questions confidently in the time given without needing to refer back to my notes. 

Mr Campbell instilled in me a love for the beauty of maths, using it step-by-step to solve complex problems, finding different methods to reach the same solution, sometimes using it to prove there were no solutions. Maths is the one subject where everyone is trying to get the same answer – where it is theoretically possible for everyone to get full marks – so students should not feel like they are competing against each other: rather we are struggling together to master the system. 

I worked hard for my maths teacher because he was passionate about maths and I knew he wanted me to succeed. I worked hard for my physics teacher because he was scary and shouted a lot. Both methods worked but I try to model myself on the former. Still, my physics teacher encouraged me to go to University to study Electronic Engineering because that’s where the well paying jobs were. I found myself explaining maths to my classmates just as much as I did in high school and, when we had a group project to do, I would volunteer to write up the theory and let others do the practical work. After two years of this it became obvious that I wasn’t actually interested in pursuing a career in Engineering – having a high salary was never an ambition for me – so I transferred to a degree in pure maths. 

I have always been an active member of a local church, not just attending activities but volunteering to lead: teaching Sunday School, running youth clubs, organising summer camps. The most obvious way to combine my love of maths with my desire to help young people become the joyful, compassionate, successful adults they desire to be was to become a teacher. So in 2003, after graduating from Strathclyde University in Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics I began my Post-Graduate Certificate in Education. I taught in Scotland until 2017, then in Guatemala until 2020. One more year teaching in Scotland during the pandemic before I moved to Romania in August 2021 to teach here. 

At Avenor I hope to help my students develop a Growth Mindset,  to understand that struggle is integral to achievement and that mistakes can be stepping-stones to success. I hope to teach students to regularly reflect on their learning journeys: inviting them to help set the success criteria, then evaluate honestly if they achieved it, driving them to take ownership of their own learning and eagerly seek to rectify misunderstandings.