Knowledge + attitude + practice = success

The best way to improve classroom instruction is to change what teachers believe and do—not just what they know.  Our activities address all three areas.

Knowledge

PD_0129-croppedWe build teachers’ skills and confidence by giving them a thorough grounding in foundational mathematics, often filling in gaps in their math knowledge. We prepare them to present elemental concepts that seem simple, but in fact are abstract and hard to explain. We help them see such ideas as a child would and prepare them to correct natural misunderstandings.

Attitude

Many early childhood teachers admit they don’t really like math or even fear and avoid it. That’s why it’s so important to address attitude when it comes to the subject of math. To help teachers embrace and include math in their daily lessons, our workshops:

  • explore how to see mathematics concepts in everyday classroom activities and demonstrate how to naturally incorporate these concepts into lessons;
  • make math fun by linking it with wonderful children’s literature and incorporating lots of hands-on activities and group work.
  • treat early childhood teachers like professionals, by valuing their experiences and opinions and providing time for them to talk with and learn from one another.

Practice

There’s a reason it’s called teaching practice. Effective instruction requires trying something, observing, assessing, adjusting, and trying again, repeatedly. Most professional development programs can’t make the time commitment required to guide teachers through this cycle until they embed new knowledge in their daily lessons.

We can, because our project supports teachers over the course of a full school year in several formats: workshops, observation, and individualized on-site coaching.

Coaching visits are structured around a planned math lesson, and time is set aside for the coach to help the teacher reflect upon results and make plans for future lessons. Workshops, too, set aside time to discuss how lessons played out when taught in the classroom. This ensures that what teachers learn in our workshop series is put to good use in the classroom, directly benefiting students.

The Whole Teacher Approach

Linking these three critical elements—knowledge, attitudes, and practice—follows a framework developed by Erikson researchers and is known as the Whole Teacher Approach to Professional Development. Just as the “whole child” concept supports effective early childhood teaching and learning, the Whole Teacher Approach recognizes that the greatest impact comes by supporting all aspects of a teacher’s growth and development.

It’s working

We’re making a difference in children’s math skills. Our research shows that children in the classrooms of teachers in the project learn more about math during the school year than children whose teachers did not participate.

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