I am going to be completely honest. I have been struggling with their vision and the direction my district has been heading. I have worked here since 2001 and never given much thought to where we’ve been headed. But ever since I jumped into the elementary world and been more invested in the math community (#MTBOS) and found like minded educators….I’m watching more closely. For over 7 years now, there has been absolutely NO MATH TRAININGS at all! That is super frustrating to see/experience. It’s not that I need the training, but I’m more concerned for all the teachers who are need of it.
A little history….
About 9 years ago, I was stationed at a middle school. I had the opportunity to be a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) for elementary math. I called myself a math coach because that’s what I did. I coached teachers who asked for assistance. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I ran around to 8 different elementary schools and can count many days where I had a handful of almonds for lunch. This was a good thing because it meant that there was a need for math help. Fast forward 2 years when I was being told I’m being put back in the classroom. At first, I was really burnt by the whole thing, but I’ve grown to embrace it. (As a matter of fact, despite having titles taken away, my work in Clothesline Math, 3 Act tasks and Number Talk images is being noticed.) However, now there is absolutely NO math help what-so-ever. Not one TOSA, not one math coach, not one whisper of math help anywhere.
Now-a-days, the only math training elementary teachers et is with a new adoption of curriculum. In this scenario, the teachers are only being trained on how to use a textbook and a website. This is not acceptable.
In a recent meeting with our new superintendent, I voiced my concern. I told her that math at the elementary level should be more of a priority. (Really—at all levels!) My superintendent’s response was that “Math wasn’t a priority in any district.” I am hoping that this was a flippant response, but I’m not sure. I tried not to flip any tables or chairs upon hearing this because I know very well that her statement is not true.
In reflecting on this conversation (months later)…here are my thoughts:
- How can we get districts to embrace mathematics more?
- Could it be that districts are at the at the whim or knowledgeable of district administration? If district admin does not have a math background or connections to math specialists/experts/consultants, then what?
- Yes reading and reading intervention is important. By no means am I diminishing the importance of reading. However, shouldn’t there be a balance?
- There are many of us out in the Twitter Universe (and beyond) willing to help train teachers on new routines and ideas. How could district admin tap into that knowledge base?
- How about sending teachers to local conferences to get the math the want/need and learn. We all are continual learners. And we need to learn from each other.
- Do all district lean on these computer based programs and think its intervention? Do they realize that best intervention comes from the teacher? Haven’t the kids had enough screen time in the past few years?
- We’re at a time where we have seen the pandemic- distance-learning-created-gaps in the students’ math knowledge. I witnessed some district hiring math interventionists to fill this need, while other district kept the status quo.
Where does math fall on your district’s priority list? How do we voice to district admin that math should be more of a priority?
I wish I could say I have hope, but it’s not looking good. My concern is for the students in that they deserve a decent math education.
Until next time,