Characteristics of high enjoyment teachers of mathematics in primary schools

James Russo, Janette Bobis, Ann Downton, Maggie Feng, Sally Hughes, Sharyn Livy, Melody McCormick, Peter Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Despite teacher enjoyment of teaching being associated with a range of benefits for teachers and their students, little research exploring the characteristics of teachers who enjoy teaching mathematics exists. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten teachers who scored in the top third in terms of their enjoyment of teaching mathematics from a sample of 118 generalist, early-year primary school teachers. Thematic analysis of interview data revealed that negative-to-positive turning point experiences were commonplace amongst high-enjoyment primary teachers, but so too were reports of consistently positive feelings towards mathematics throughout their entire lives. While most articulated a passion for teaching mathematics, all teachers considered instances when students experienced ‘light bulb’ moments in their mathematical understanding that made a mathematics lesson enjoyable to teach. An important implication of our research is that one need not be a ‘maths person’ to come to love teaching mathematics. Rather, positive experiences in one’s pre-service teacher education, or in-service teacher professional learning, have the potential to transform one’s attitude towards teaching mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Mathematics teaching
  • Primary teaching
  • Teacher attitudes
  • Teacher enjoyment
  • Turning points

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