School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education:
2. Teachers Responding to the Challenge
"The very first (PD) session that we had was, we need to be thinking of culturally appropriate ways of teaching mathematics to children. Make sure it's responsive to their needs in the way that their family group learns. That was quite nice. And then we all thought 'Oh, I have a maths observation. Oh my gosh! OK, what's my best maths teaching? Here we go' and straight away Bobbie just said 'Stop'." Teacher
"...it was something so different and outside of my comfort zone…" Teacher
"There was certainly a shock – sort of like a shockwave – that went through the school; a bit of fear and trepidation like, 'oh dear what have we got ourselves into?'" Board Trustee
"Just seeing her (Principal) in the class, to me this is somebody who is with me on this journey. Where I had doubts she was there to encourage and support me, and when we have meetings she's there pushing for it. But not only with classrooms, it's with the community as well." Teacher
"It's really important for the principal to be involved in the professional learning. And I don't mean just turning up at the workshops. Yes, that's important but what's really important….is to be aware of where each staff member in your school is at with the DMIC." Principal
When resourced, the DMIC professional development includes:
- multiple strategies for productive inquiry focused on teaching and learning
- relationship building by the Massey team including support for teachers and leaders
- workshops that engage teachers with the culturally responsive approach, the pedagogy, and evidence-informed mathematics pedagogical content knowledge across the maths curriculum
- smart tools that will assist teachers to support children's learning progressions in participation, communication, collaboration, problem solving and mathematical learning
- guidance to design educationally powerful problem tasks connected to the children's lives
- research readings and opportunities for applied postgraduate study for ongoing improvement
- leadership of the initial workshops for parents and whānau for school-home partnership
- in-class mentoring, videoing of practice, feedback and challenge
- use of a structured collaborative lesson study approach for sustainable and ongoing improvement
The DMIC approach enables big equity changes including through the use of an evidence-informed inclusive approach to mixed ability grouping that advantages both low and high achievers.
Integration of theory and practice is essential for effective professional development. In DMIC, the first in-class mentoring session starts the challenging process of deep change.
The in-class mentor connects with the teacher, observes, halts the lesson, models or explains the change needed, then supports the teacher through the change process. The in-class mentoring is an essential strategy for "walk the talk" change in culturally responsive practice.
Initially, when teachers experience the challenges that the in-class mentoring process entails, they need a leader who anticipates the challenge, is a co-learner who can do the constructive problem talk and be supportive to teachers in the change process.
See the video on Russell School perspectives on Teachers Responding to the Challenge