Annual Report Overviews
Annual Report Overview
SUMMARY of PROGRESS
Part I: Annual Overview
Reaching every teacher was designed to be a teacher centered, school
based model of professional development for all teachers of mathematics
in the Waltham school district. Our goals are:
There was also some discontent among the elementary teachers surrounding the fact that the first few seminars did not produce materials for the classroom. We felt strongly, however, that it is important not to try and upgrade teacher content knowledge with student materials. We were careful to explain our goals, but the message took awhile to sink in, and during the second half of the seminar series we did create some grade level lessons for teachers to try out with their students.
Our workshop sessions on student thinking were received well from the outset because most teachers understand the need to do this better. They all make attempts at it, but these are most often haphazard and consume time that teachers feel they can ill afford. They appreciate the fact that we are working with them to create strategies that are efficient.
Since no educational reform effort can hope to succeed without support from all constituents, we were aggressive about inviting parents and building administrators to the seminars. We gave the principals the responsibility of securing parental participation and they produced parent attendance at about eighty percent of our seminars. We know this effort was successful because the parents wrote very thoughtful and positive reflections on our feedback forms.
Prior to securing funding from NSF we were able to get a small grant from NYNEX to enable us to work with a cadre of teacher leaders. We call these people our Liaison Teachers. There are 26 of them and they span all grade levels and buildings. We met with the liaisons monthly during the year and for three days during the summer preceding the grant period. They helped plan the seminars and now serve as conduits to the building administration as well as resource people for the rest of the teachers. Starting in September and continuing through this school year our seminars are designed around trying out new curricula. The liaison teachers spent three days this summer selecting lessons for our teachers to try from three reform curricula, Investigations, Everyday Math and Trailblazers in elementary; Connected Math, Seeing and Thinking Mathematically and Math in Context in middle; and The Interactive Math Program (IMP}, UCSMP, Connected Math and CORE PLUS in high school. The liaison teachers had to select lessons that would fit into the sequence of our existing curriculum given that the seminars are spread evenly throughout the school year. This was a formidable task and so far their work has been right on target.
We ran two very successful all day principal workshops where we did much of the same thing we did with teachers. These were designed in part by our liaisons with input from the rank and file. They were very well received. Principals actually welcomed the opportunity to participate in substantive curriculum work. The culture in Waltham has been for principals to serve in a role that emphasizes building management, but the new Education Reform Law in Massachusetts pushes principals into the educational leadership role. Our workshop gave them some very valuable experience.
One of the most successful aspects of the program was our Industry Volunteers in the Classroom (see MITRE bulletin). We recruited 47 industry people from businesses in the Waltham area. They were trained for two days and made on sight visits to their buildings prior to assuming teaching duties. They replace middle and high school teachers on workshop days and each of them is attached to the same teacher for the entire year. About three quarters of them are teamed in pairs. The program mitigated our substitute situation and has produced exceptional public relations for the businesses and our system. It also insures an uninterrupted continuity of instruction during the ongoing workshop period.
We believe that the program had a very good first year. Our Liaison Teachers have gained much needed confidence concerning their ability to sustain the program into the third year and the faculty in general has confidence that we are leading them in a direction that is compatible with the new state frameworks.