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Teacher Interview: Kathleen Molloy

As I explained in my recent post about the importance of teachers, Adaptemy simply would not function without our teachers and their feedback. As such, I interviewed Kathleen Molloy from St. Columba’s Comprehensive School in Donegal in order to gain an insight into her Adaptemy experience. Kathleen joined the Adaptemy pilot programme with her second year maths class in November, and she emphasised the positive nature of her experience throughout the interview. Her passion for teaching became clear as soon as she started speaking, as did the depth of her engagement with the Adaptemy system and her commitment to learning more about how it works. Kathleen began by explaining how she uses Adaptemy in the classroom before describing how the pilot programme has benefitted her students and how she intends to use the system in the future.

Our interview began just as Kathleen finished her weekly Adaptemy session with her second year higher level maths class. The class is given homework to complete each Thursday before their Adaptemy session on Friday morning, and Kathleen described how her students “rush to the room” each week before beginning to work on the system. Reminding students to bring pens, paper, and a calculator to the session is vital for tackling some of the more difficult questions because “guessing is not a thing that you’re going to get away with”. As Kathleen goes through a topic, she finds that Adaptemy gives “a reinforcement of what’s going on in class” and illustrates how the material covered in earlier classes could be asked in an exam. She described her way of using the system as “hands-on” because she moves around the classroom “seeing that students are progressing through the different topics” rather than monitoring the dashboard throughout the class, although she believes that she should spend more time at the dashboard. While Kathleen felt “trepidation” before adopting the pilot programme because she had never used EdTech in the classroom before, a technician in her school solved any teething problems early on. Adaptemy hasn’t interfered with her teaching, and Kathleen stated “my teaching and the Adaptemy programme work very well together”.

Kathleen praised Adaptemy for providing a “hands-on experience for students”, stressing that “the topics are very well covered from a syllabus point of view”. She highlighted a particular question that clearly differentiated between a point, a line, a line segment, and a ray, which can cause problems for many students. The questions reinforce the topics that have been covered earlier in the week and provide “a different learning experience”. Kathleen emphasised that “the students can actually go at their own pace”, with some students completing three concepts per class and others completing one concept in the same amount of time, and that this flexibility improves their learning. The positivity of Kathleen’s experience has been “reflected in the progress that the students are making”, and her students enjoy each session and work diligently for 40 minutes without looking for distractions such as games on the computer because they “really want to get into the programme”. “Students love to see ‘correct’”, and when an answer is marked as incorrect they become very annoyed and “strive to see where they went wrong”. Kathleen noted that students often read questions incorrectly, and receiving instant feedback allows them to identify their mistakes. She believes that the benefits for students of using the system “will manifest themselves in their results”. Although encountering difficult questions on topics such as Algebra is a “great experience” for students, some questions may be “just too difficult for the ordinary second year student”. 

When asked about her plans for using Adaptemy in the future, Kathleen expressed her intention to use a particular topic as a class test and “use it to evaluate their progress”. She “would love to be able to give the students at the end of the year a nice printout of their overall work”, which she suggests would also be a “great boost for their parents”. Kathleen also intends to use the system with her third year higher level class after their mock exams in order to give the students extra tuition before their exams in June.

Overall, Kathleen reported that using Adaptemy has been “very successful experience”. We would like to thank Kathleen for speaking to us and encourage other teachers to do the same – email to set up an interview!