The goal of the Zeroing in on Math initiative is to increase the number of schools delivering highly effective and engaging math instruction to students in Grades 4-8 with the ultimate goal to improve 8th grade math proficiency throughout the city. EdVestors is partnering with the Boston Public Schools Excellence for All Initiative to support teachers as they continue to grow as professionals and as they develop young mathematicians in Boston. Based on teacher and school leader feedback through a survey administered in Spring 2015, and visiting high-performing schools across the city, we have created a number of strategies to impact math instruction in partnership with schools.
Here is a summary of the instructional supports and professional learning opportunities offered to participating teachers and school leaders.
Collaborative Planning and Deep Dive on Standards
It is critical that all teachers have a common understanding of the math standards in their grade level as well as the surrounding grades. Teachers across the 4 participating schools will meet monthly to discuss the 4th and 5th grade content standards, as well as the standards of mathematical practice. The goal of each meeting is to provide teachers with learning opportunities to deepen math pedagogical content knowledge and to provide useful strategies for teachers to take back to their classrooms.
Participating schools will pilot a math diagnostic test at the beginning and end of the school year as a way to measure student growth across the year.
Principals and other administrative staff will be supported in developing the ability to observe and determine the difference between a well-managed and a well-taught math classroom. Principals will be willing to attend targeted and strategic professional development around supporting math classrooms. Details for this will be forthcoming, but we will be sensitive to the demands on a principal’s time when creating these opportunities.
Differentiated Teacher Learning Opportunities & Coaching
Our survey data demonstrated the value of ongoing coaching and feedback targeted to a teacher’s individual needs. We will provide access to a personalized coaching model as a pilot program in participating schools. Participating 4th grade teachers will plan to connect “virtually” with a designated coach on a bi-weekly basis and “as needed” at other times. Coaching meetings will be scheduled for one hour every other week at a time determined by the teacher and the coach.