School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education:
9. Family and community: Partners in change
"Usually when school finishes my son comes home, throws the school bag and says ‘What’s for tea, Dad?’ You know. But since the programme by Dr Hunter started he comes home …and says ‘Dad, can you come and look at this? …the new maths. I like it’…So, I have to leave everything behind and just come to see what he’s saying, what he’s enjoying about it." Parent
"As a parent, one of the things that actually matters most to me in schooling is that my kids are learning how to live well in the world. How to be compassionate, empathetic and how to be good citizens and communicate well." Parent
"The teachers here have made sure that it's comfortable for (children) to speak out even if they are wrong. I think the teachers here are awesome in that way and that they have a deeper connection to the kids so that they feel more comfortable in asking questions." Parent
"Maths for a lot of children is quite hard to understand. One of my sons, he just doesn't want to bother because he thinks it's too hard. But, they do have an awesome system here, where they are introducing new ways (of) teaching the kids maths, which is good. (My son at this school) is very proud to have come this far in his maths, and excelling. He is actually wanting to learn maths. He comes home after school without me even having to tell him that it's homework time. I've seen him do equations without me having to even ask. So, it's awesome to see that he's wanting to learn." Parent
"It's really important that the parents and the community outside of school have bought into it and we're in it together." Teacher
"Each Board member in their own time has gone into the classrooms to sort of understand how it (DMIC) works." Board Chair
"Sose had just received the results about the DMIC maths and how fantastic we were doing and she got up and she was talking about the results (to the parents at the school concert). It was like: 'Wow! Look at what your kids have done. Isn't it amazing?' It wasn't like, 'my staff and I are amazing' but 'look at what we have achieved together'. The results that we've got now are fantastic. We're not only doing well in maths, but it's also spreading into other parts of the curriculum: the reading, the writing, the understanding of the children. I don't think I've been to many schools where the children actually want to have a maths lesson." Board Chair 2017
"It would be great to see this in action more." Iwi representative 2015
Creating educationally powerful connections with children's family, whānau, iwi and communities is a key to effective culturally responsive teaching; especially when the child's culture and family language/s are different from the teacher's culture or the language/s of teaching. When high trust relationships are forged, families are able to provide valued information to teachers to help ensure that the mathematics problem tasks and the wider curriculum connect to the children's lives.
At Russell School, parent and caregiver workshops were held in the first year of the implementation so that families could be introduced to DMIC. Food was provided, and parents and their children tried out some of the new mathematics practices with the children explaining the approach. Parents could also raise questions and concerns and discuss the new way of teaching.
School leaders and teachers created opportunities to build their relationships and trust with families. For some parents, their experiences of mathematics have been of repeated failure so even attending such a workshop was a challenge.
More about the underpinning evidence
Equipping parents and caregivers with understandings to support their children's mathematics learning at home matters, otherwise homework time can become a highly stressful experience in busy households. As with reading, parent involvement with children's mathematics homework can have either ongoing positive or negative effects on children's achievement. Find out more about the underpinning evidence in:
See the video on a range of perspectives about DMIC from the Russell School community, Family and community: Partners in change