Think of a number and subtract 9 – what did you get?

I got 1 confused pupil and 1 baffled teacher.

They say you never forget your first class. This is true. My first class was a group of 5-year-olds – a gorgeous and curious bunch – I could not have wished for a nicer introduction to the teaching world.

But… sometimes there are bigger lessons to learn. This is a true story – but names have been changed because the child is probably a grandfather by now (I’ve been doing this too long!)

Bob was a dog. He was a child physically but mentally he was a dog. He liked to run around on all fours, chew toys and… bark. If he just did the first two, he’s just being five. He wanted to nap in a dog basket. He wanted to sniff and lick things.

Challenge 1. How to teach a dog maths.

Okay, I’ve always been able to think outside the box, so pretty soon all maths was related to bones, cats, tins of dog food, dog blankets… I had this covered. Excuse the pun.

Bob the dog learned to count, add and subtract to 20. This was the national curriculum target at the time.

Unfortunately, the curriculum also required Bob to mentally subtract 9 by subtracting 10 and then adding 1. Bob could subtract 9 by just subtracting 9 – but the other methodology was a target he was to achieve.

With all the other children busy with their number tasks, I sat with Bob in the dog basket for 45 minutes going through every possible different strategy I could think of – using resources, picture representations, physical activity… the list went on. No matter what I did, Bob just did not get that concept.

Eventually there was nothing left to try. So, I told him not to worry about it, he just wasn’t ready for that way of doing things yet.

As he crawled away to his chew toy, Bob shook his head and said, “It’s just too hard for a dog!”

The real learning is a valuable lesson indeed

The real lesson I learned was often the simplest explanation and route is the best – but if you have another way to find the right answer, for the love of God, take it.

I love working with young children. I always have and probably always will. It was this that attracted me to teaching in the first place.  Yes, I help teachers (along with other professionals) change careers if their chosen path no longer makes them happy – but as all those who currently serve or have served in education know, it’s a privilege to help young minds grow and develop. It’s never a reason why career-changers choose to move on.

Stop over-complicating issues and find the right answer in a way that works for you.

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I first worked with Will whilst I was a junior member of a teaching team. I worked closely with him for around three years and he became a true mentor to me. During this time Will helped encourage me to discover my own leadership style and he mapped out what it takes to be successful. I highly recommend Will for life and career coaching.

Will is a professional, natural leader who manages to make you feel at ease. He manages to be both emphatic and encouraging, whilst also managing to challenge you to find your own answers. Will’s approach is totally non-judgmental and the sessions are really focused on you and on what you want to achieve. Working with Will has allowed me to address challenges I was facing and he brought a wealth of resources and practical tools to help me set goals, clarify my values, and explore avenues right away. Even though I left teaching 5 years ago, I still seek out Will for his help and guidance and I appreciate his versatility as a thought partner, ally, and coach. Our sessions are always productive and efficiently run, which is perfect for someone who is juggling many priorities! Will brings great communication, professionalism and quality to his work and I highly recommend him as a life/business coach.
- Jamie T (Leadership Coaching)

Highly recommended

I am so glad I found Mapleleaf Vision! Will has been super supportive and understood exactly what I needed to help me to redirect my focus. I now have fresh enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
- Greg M (Life Coaching)


Will at Mapleleaf vision fitted me in for a last minute decision-making session that I needed to make ASAP re. a job offer / career change. He was friendly, professional, and really knew his stuff! He unpicked things that I could never have done on my own. I’m so grateful to him & will be highly recommending him to everyone! Where there is a ‘Will’, there’s a way! Thank you, Will. You truly have a gift.
- Cat K (Career Coaching)