School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education:
6. Deep Change: Applied post-graduate study
"Some of us last year did Massey papers outside of school hours, on top of their already busy workload around school commitments. It’s a huge commitment on staff." Principal
"It's a hard learning curve, a lot of work, a lot of reading…seeing tired teachers going, 'Why have I taken on this extra reading task to get ahead in maths?' But then you see them excited about knowing what they're doing. You're seeing that in the staffroom, teachers collaborating with ideas." Teacher Aide
"Definitely the paper was making a big difference, because the kinds of conversations that we could have were quite deep …they understood that this is based on a lot of research…So I think that really increased their understanding which meant that they could implement it with a lot more knowledge themselves…Having a better understanding of the big mathematical ideas made a really, really huge difference…Oh, this is what we're teaching and this is where the kids have come from and this is where we need to push them to." In-class mentor
"It was really helpful doing that paper together with Sose and Vicki as well, and seeing it happening in the classroom and having that constant discussion about it." Teacher
"Finally, all the bits of the puzzle went together." Teacher
Applied postgraduate study is a crucial pathway to developing adaptive expertise for accelerated improvement in areas of system need in New Zealand. Primary mathematics achievement was significantly below the international scaled centre point in the 2014/15 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. A Ministry of Education report [PDF 2.4mB] reveals that more than a quarter of Māori learners and almost a third of Pasifika learners were achieving below the low international benchmark.
DMIC is not a quick fix. DMIC is a reinvention of teaching practice for equity, excellence, belonging and wellbeing. The approach is a complex re/invention of professional practice informed by research and development programmes including at Stanford, Purdue and Plymouth Universities. The co-leaders of DMIC have received awards from the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia for their ground-breaking developments in this evidence-based, culturally responsive approach to children's and teachers' learning.
Deep theoretical understanding enables adaptive expertise for accelerated and ongoing improvement through DMIC. The opportunity for applied postgraduate study in Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities enables teachers and leaders to gain new knowledge, to use theory as a tool to build adaptive expertise to respond to practice challenges, and to engage in disciplined inquiry to accelerate improvement.
In the second year of the Russell School implementation, the principal undertook applied postgraduate DMIC study with members of her staff so that her leadership decisions, leadership of inquiry, and support for staff as a co-learner could be informed by a deep understanding of the theory informing the pedagogy.
See the video on Russell School's perspectives on Deep Change: Applied post-graduate study