Almaz Khamidullin teaches mathematics at the Lyceum-Boarding School No. 2, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, having quit a computing course at Moscow State University and abandoning plans to become a programmer or IT manager, once the teaching bug took hold and he decided on his future career. Facing teacher shortages, his old school administration in his small hometown turned to its graduates in search of help and Almaz heeded the call, moving back home. At the boarding school where he lives he teaches by day and works as a tutor in the evening.
Ten years later he is working in the school for boys, married and with two children of his own, mathematics having proved a faithful friend in life. Almaz says with its help, he has entered the best university in the country, won the competition in advanced mathematics in the All-Russian contest, is one of the most successful young teachers in the country, able to interest children in school and motivate them to further successes in life, including some of the poorest children from nearby communities. He also spends 25 weekend evenings a year on student home visits so he can get to know their parents and gain more insights into their individual needs.
To overcome the problem of students paying little attention to traditional mathematics teaching, Almaz uses integrated learning technology with practical examples showing connections between mathematics and other sciences and with real life - using special photos with mobile apps he shows how an ellipse is used in crushing kidney stones in a medical patient, how everyone integrates various things at least several times a day, or how a standard soccer ball is woven of pentagons and hexagons. This approach has consistently brought mathematics alive for children; they begin to see it around themselves almost everywhere, motivating them to solve problems and immersion in theory. At his school he has also started advanced mathematics tuition and personalised learning tracks for each child where they take different subjects at different levels of advancement, going to lessons according to the levels they have chosen. Lessons at school are taught in different languages, broadening student outlooks as global citizens.
His methods have paid off with a string of mathematics competition victories for his students – 50 winners in the last years alone, making his school number one in the republic in mathematics, and some of his fast-track students have entered university all over the world, months before graduating school. Competition success is not limited to domestic victories either, as his students have succeeded in international project Olympiads including European Math Tournament (Belarus, 1st place), Infomatrix (Romania, bronze medal), International Computer Project Competition (Turkmenistan, gold medal). While Almaz himself has won great acclaim and awards for seminars on how mathematics can help solve social problems, financial literacy and improving the teaching profession, and banding together with colleagues to deliver highly engaging remote lessons with a bespoke YouTube channel during the pandemic.