The components listed in this last section are all ones we’re working on. There really isn’t an adequate amount of resources allocated to math. Unfortunately, that situation isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so we’re going to have to do the best we can with what we have.
I’m fortunate to work full time in the math arena in a K-5 school. Many schools in Portland don’t have that position, but Title I funds provide funding for my position. However, my job description entails being both an Interventionist and a Coach. Both of these could really be a full time job. So managing priorities is important. I also wish there were more opportunities for math resource people to work together to improve our coaching skills. The model that Steve suggests for Math TLC’s working together every Friday sounds a little unrealistic in our district, but opportunities to further develop our skills would trickle down to improved coaching for teachers and better math instruction for students. Our literacy coaches have had the opportunity to train with the Teacher College leaders in reading and writing and it definitely has made a difference in student performance in those areas.
We are making inroads in professional interaction as we work towards developing common curriculum for each grade level. We are beginning to talk about creating common formative and summative assessments. After we collect and examine this data we’ll be able to make more informed decisions about whether or not the program is working for all students. I don’t think people are ready yet to begin teaching in front of each other, but it’s a future goal for professional development.
Providing intervention to students needing support is a challenge. Because we don’t have any extra people to provide it we are going to have to become more creative about how we do this. I have worked in other places where classroom teachers worked together to creatively group students to provide extra support in areas of need (literacy or mathematics). We will need to have to have those conversations as a building if we are going to be able to provide intervention. One small thing we have done is allow students to use the computer lab before school to practice using IXL. It isn’t direct instructional time, but the ed tech who supervises the lab works hard to steer children to areas where extra practice would be beneficial. We first are targeting students who don’t have opportunities to practice at home.
So many of these components are on our radar screen, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
ATOMIM is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England.