Annual Report Overviews
Annual Report Overview
Teachers as Agents of Systemic Change (TAASC) is a local systemic initiative in mathematics that affects all of the secondary mathematics teachers grades 6 - 12 in four multi-cultural districts near California State Polytechnic University Pomona. The project makes use of identified mathematics teacher-leaders at each of the secondary school sites in the districts.
The project got off to a strong start in September, 1996, with the meeting of the district advisory committee in which the schedule for the year was laid out. During the fall semester, information and curriculum inservice for the 32 principals (since increased to 34), informational inservice for parent leaders at each of the schools, selection of teacher leaders, and planning for the spring professional development activities took place.
The 35 teacher-leaders (two schools asked for and paid for a second person and one school l-Poly on Cal Poly campus was added) met for the first time in January and met monthly through May. Full staff development days were devoted to: January-NCTM Standards, California Framework, and problem-solving activities; February-SlMMS and STEM; March-Harvard Case Study Project; April-CorePlus; and May-Connected Mathematics. In every case content and pedagogy were stressed through the media of the national NSF-funded curriculum projects.
After each inservice day, there were follow up sessions at the schools conducted by the teacher leaders with the assistance of the Co-Pi's or the project coordinator. In addition more than 60 of the participating teachers (leaders and colleagues) attended a full day conference sponsored by the Center in April.
Sixty-two teacher leaders participated in a four week summer workshop. (Each teacher-leader identified one additional person from his/her school to serve as a partner in change, but not all partners could attend.) We were fortunate in that one-third of the participants (21) were minority teachers. Based on a teacher survey, classes were set up which dealt with content strengthening and pedagogical renewal. As a result of the survey, it was agreed that every student would be required to take one period for two weeks of technology which includes graphing calculator, computer assisted instruction such as the Geometer's Sketchpad, Calculator Based Laboratory (CBL), internet, and the world wide web. Separate sections were provided for beginning and advanced students.
In the summer schedule participants were together for an initial problem-solving session in which interesting problems were posed and a variety of solution methods were examined using mathematics from appropriate secondary levels from arithmetic to calculus. For the second period during the first two weeks, teachers could choose from informal geometry; permutations, combinations, and probability; and number sense/number theory. Following lunch participants chose from Harvard Project calculus (taught by the mathematics chair), introduction to discrete mathematics, or the appropriate technology section. A final period was devoted to topics such as leadership, equity, special needs, effective use of materials, and multicultural classrooms.
During the second two week session participants chose for the second period from matrices (taught by the applied mathematics chair), proportional thinking, or teaching mathematics with manipulatives. For the third period they chose from discrete mathematics or the appropriate technology section. A listserv has been established and lively discussions are already taking place. The Center established the list serve and provides a web coordinator, participants furnish their e-mail addresses. There is no cost to the project for this service to the participants.
It appears as if even the most reluctant participant enjoyed the workshop experience. There seemed to be great enthusiasm and appreciation for what we are trying to do.
What have we learned? First, we found that two meetings a year of the district advisory committee are not enough. We have had four meetings to keep district representatives informed and coordinated and included in all phases of planning. Secondly, high school teachers are hard to reach (no surprise there) but once reached they become ardent supporters. Third, the lines between middle school and high school teachers dissolve when they are together in a problem-solving situation. Four, four weeks of four 90 minute sessions a day is just too much for a non-residential program. By the end of the day everyone was worn out. Five, the degree of support from the districts varies in strength, but all have stayed the course. By the end of the summer, the original teacher leaders had 132 hours of staff development and the partners, 102. Other teachers in the project range from 16 hours to none. We expected this first year to gear up the leaders and believed that through them we will be able to accomplish change in their schools. We have established a 10-member teacher advisory committee (TAC) to help in the planning for the second year.
In all, the project is on schedule, on budget, and seemingly successful to this point. The matching funds also appear to be on schedule: the salaries of the Co-PI's have been matched, the districts have provided 35 teachers with 5 days each of released time and 32 days of principal time, the Center has matched registration fees for the all day conference, and internet services are being provided.
Although the summer was exhausting, it was also exhilarating. We can't wait for year two.