Why professional support in mathematics is vital

Mathematics "professional development and support through collaboration" — I use this to describe my work with schools because it embodies what I believe.  All teachers — veteran, novice, or anywhere in between — can and should always be learning more about fostering students’ mathematical understanding, and the best way to do so is through collaboration in a supportive, professional learning environment.  

The challenge for many teachers is that the kind of environment described above is often difficult for a school or district to provide because of lack of funding or time.  However, the challenge does lie with schools and districts as well because we are all accountable for students’ learning, which will for the first time this year be measured (in Ohio and many other states) with the PARCC assessments that reflect the Common Core State Standards.  A recent article in the New York Times Magazine, entitled “Why Do Americans Stink at Math?”, provides an exceptional perspective on the history of attempted mathematics reforms in American schools.  The author, Elizabeth Green, makes one point very clear — we MUST provide strong and ongoing professional support for teachers if we truly want students to learn, understand, and apply mathematics.  I highly encourage you to read this article and to share it with friends, colleagues, and community members.  We cannot expect students’ learning to change when we do not provide enough support to the teachers who are expected to enact the change!

© Summit Mathematics Education Enterprises, LLC 2014