Zeynep Karawater a Maths teacher at Skinners’ Academy for the past year started her journey as an educator back in 2010 when she would volunteering at a Turkish School in Eltham and found her passion in teaching saying “those students inspired me to become who I am today.”
Speaking to Londra Gazete Karawater expressed it was her father, who sparked her interest mathematic skill from a young age “I remember playing dominos with my father as a child…” Adding “He would use different strategies to memorise as well as great analytical skills, then he would explain it to us how he did it. My father was my first inspiration. Every weekend he would ask me to sit down with him and I would read the articles he chose.”
Karawaters moved to London from Istanbul to study saying: “I was accepted to Queen Mary University to study Maths however I had to prioritise being a mother, so I accepted an offer from the University of Greenwich to study Computer Science which was closer to home.”
But her volunteer work meant she was use her skills to help student struggling “. My first student in England was Ilayda who I worked very closely with. I met her while volunteering at a Supplementary School with Turkish, Kurdish, and Cypriot students. She was in the bottom set for Maths and did not see a future in the subject. After working with her for some time, she had an end of term test at School and got a higher result than students in the higher sets…” It was Ilayda who later went on to study maths at University which pushed Karawater to do her postgraduate degree and become a qualified teacher.
Explain that her work and passion as resulted in her students achieving top grades Karawater said: In my first year at Skinner’s, my year 11 class achieved 99% A and A*” Adding that “In 2019 I was given twice in a row “Always being there for Pupils” Award voted by students.”
Her success this year saw another set of year 11 received top marks “This year all my Year 11 students achieved 100%. 2 achieved Grade 7, 11 of them achieved Grade 8 and 18 students achieved Grade 9. I am very proud of them. They all come from different backgrounds and have no Mathematicians in their family like me. All my other students also excelled in their work, they proved that Maths belongs to them. Maths belongs to all, regardless of where you come from.”
Her achievement was recognized as she was shortlisted for the TES awards 2020 Maths teacher of the year “I am very honoured and humbled at the same time. In many ways, I am still that little girl whose parents came from a little village in Turkey. I remember when I arrived for the first time in London, I spoke very little to almost no English. I had to learn the language first before I could even dream of becoming a teacher. I am grateful to be recognized for my work in the country and I am even more grateful for the wonderful students I have.” she said.
Adding: “Most of my students come from Hackney and 2019-2020 was particularly difficult for GCSE and A-Level students. Despite of all the problems they have faced my Year 11 students delivered 100% A and A*. They were truly amazing students. I was lucky to be their teacher and I owe my success to those wonderful students.”
Volunteering is still at the forefront of Karawater work and starts up a new project called ‘Math’s Belongs To All’, where she’ll be working to help children in the Turkish Speaking Community that need extract help with maths saying: “Teaching maths is not about numbers or algebra or geometry. It is about people, culture, the air we breathe, the food we eat and the celebrations we enjoy. It is about real life, it is about you and me, all of us. We need to adapt to new times and change the way we communicate Maths in the classroom. It must be culturally relevant…”
“As a Maths teacher, I found my knowledge of mathematicians who can inspire my students limited. Not only with their achievements, but also who they are as people and their struggles in life. We must help our students to find their own cultural connections to Maths to increase student engagement and incorporate different perspectives while celebrating our differences because Maths belongs to all.”
Karawater also said: Have ownership of your learning. Ask questions. Be inquisitive. Be an investigative learner. Do not limit yourself to books only. Explore and believe in yourself. You don’t need anyone to tell you that. You are important, your opinion and who you are matters. You are the future, and you are the parents to the future.”
If you would like to learn more information about ‘Math’s Belongs To All’ you can email Zeynep Karawater on 07883452135 or Instagram at “mathsbelongstoall”.