Best Practices in Mathematics – Not Just for Teachers
During the 2016 – 2017 school year, the Caesar Rodney School District partnered with
the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to focus on implementing best
practices in mathematics with secondary schools. In addition to SREB, lead teachers
also participated in the TRU-Math Elementary Mathematics Teaching and Learning
(EMTL) Program and the TRU-Math Leadership Coaching Lab. All the professional
learning focused on implementing rigorous lessons that are engaging for students in a
meaningful way, and the teachers who participated embraced the opportunity with
Putting learning into practice was not an easy task. Hard work and a lot of time and
effort went into trying new lessons and strategies to increase student engagement and
achievement. Collaborating with peers and sharing instructional strategies made the
implementation process more manageable. Having the opportunity to share successes
and struggles seemed to keep the energy moving forward.
Even with the amazing professional learning that was taking place, the district realized
there was still one critical part missing to best sustain the work the teachers were doing.
In order for successful change to happen, all stakeholders had to have the same
learning opportunity and professional development. Administrators needed support so
they could productively support the teachers. Cohesive professional learning equals
During the end of the school year, Mrs.Tara Faircloth, Supervisor of Instruction for
Mathematics, reached out to Mrs. Debbie Robertson, district SREB consultant and the
Education Associate for Secondary Mathematics, Ms. Jenny Novak, for support in
creating the professional learning. The vision was to empower administrators to look for
best practices in mathematics in conceptual ways versus procedural instruction.
Over the summer,Mrs. Faircloth prepared and facilitated four sessions for district
administrators focused on four of the eight Mathematics Teaching Practices found in the
book, Principles to Actions Ensuring Mathematical Success for All, NCTM. Knowing all
the professional learning that was taking place and the vision the district was moving in,
it made sense. The long range goal was to focus on these four practices first: establish
mathematics goals to focus learning, pose purposeful questions, facilitate meaningful
mathematical discourse, and implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem
solving. Administrators engaged in their own learning and were eager to work on rolling
out the professional learning with their teachers.
On August 7, 8, and 9, the professional learning path continued with a new SREB
cohort including 20 teachers and 3 administrators. Mrs. Robertson and Mrs. Faircloth
collaborated to ensure the new group of learners experienced SREB utilizing the four
practices from the administrative summer professional learning.
In addition, videos from Annie Fetter, Math Forum NCTM, were included in the sessions
as well. As a result of the learning that took place, the district theme this year is “Notice
& Wonder.” The best part is that it applies to all content areas, not just mathematics.
The district is excited to kick off the 2017 – 2018 school year with this focus and is
eager to have Annie Fetter present at their January in-service Teachers, Teaching,