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There is a common tendency today to link higher math standards for our students with the kind of achievement we see in other countries. A complementary thread is to link high standards in math to the broad trends in our ever-changing, information economy. By implication, we need to ensure all students are proficient in this discipline.
The need has never been greater for well-designed mathematics instruction that promotes confidence in teachers and guides students to success.
There are many commonly proposed solutions to the shortage of qualified teachers for secondary students who are struggling in math or have learning disabilities. These solutions are expensive, complex, and they will take considerable time to implement. Many of them have been with us for years and have yet to be seriously implemented. So, what can be done in the short term?
At the heart of today’s challenge is finding a sufficient number of new teachers who have three distinct qualifications: 1) a sufficient content knowledge of mathematics, 2) a reasonable level of teaching or “pedagogical” knowledge of the subject, and 3) a capacity to differentiate instruction for struggling students. Finding all of these qualifications in one individual is rare, and the data confirm this.
American educators have a well-honed way of thinking about curriculum. Typically, district committees compare and then adopt a curriculum to meet specific goals or guidelines. More recently, curriculum adoption in math has been driven by state or national standards.
Is there a more efficient way to begin PD or coaching, one where the teachers’ needs are more common than they are divergent? Can this be done in a way that is nonthreatening, at least in comparison to in-class coaching with feedback?
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