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Partnership Yields Teacher Growth in Mansfield OH

Mansfield High School is a highly successful site for the Math Cohort High School model.  More than 80% of the current cohort, now seniors, are expected to graduate on time this spring AND attend college.  In January 2012, observing the success of the cohort at the end of Grade 10, the Mansfield City School District (MSCD) requested that the Algebra Project conduct a K-8 teacher professional development (PD) program in collaboration with faculty from the Ohio State University/Mansfield (OSUM) departments of Mathematics and Mathematics Education.  Over the last 18 months, Kindergarten through 8th grade teachers have been exploring mathematics instruction in depth, both in terms of “what to teach” (content) and “how to teach it” (pedagogy). Bill Crombie, Director of Professional Development for the Algebra Project, notes that the program also has worked to build strong connections between pre- and in-service teachers in two important ways.  First, undergraduates studying to become teachers at OSUM give presentations about their innovative work in their OSUM Content and Methods courses to in-service MCSD teachers.  Second, thanks to OSUM Math Education Professor Terri Bucci, in-service teachers have been asked to co-teach aspects of the Content and Methods courses for pre-service teachers.  These features have exposed both new and veteran teachers to novel materials and approaches to teach mathematics more effectively.

A significant part of the program has been the development of “teacher-leaders” — teachers who, in the process of mastering Algebra Project pedagogy, are also willing and able to support other teachers’ implementation in their classrooms.  As a part of an effort to build professional learning communities in the schools of participating teachers, the PD program has started a Lesson Study process, in which teams of teachers prepare lessons that are briefed, taught, and reviewed by fellow teachers, mathematicians and math educators.  MSCD K-8 teachers examined eight public lessons this year as part of this process. Lesson Study intentionally involves teachers teaching each other, as well as teachers engaging themselves as active learners, which the Algebra Project has found to be effective in improving teachers’ instruction.  The current PD program in Mansfield has been an important outgrowth of the research and development of the high school Cohort Model, as the lessons learned for content and pedagogy are transferred and adapted to support K-8 mathematics education and teacher preparation.

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