Part 2

Keys to Effective Mathematics Leadership—Activating your Vision for Math Teaching and Learning (Part 2)

Okay…so you have worked with your teachers, leaders, and community members to establish a clearly defined vision for exemplary mathematics teaching and learning. Now what? How can you be sure that your vision is enacted?

In my last post, I described a professional learning experience (dubbed Principals Curriculum and Instruction or PCI) that our district is providing to our school principals focused on achieving the following three pursuits:

  1. Improving the quality of instructional conversations that occur prior to the lesson
  2. Improving the quality of evidence collected during classroom instruction
  3. Improving the quality of formative feedback provided to teachers after

Last time, I outline strategies for Pursuit One. In this blog post, I will share how our secondary mathematics office team is working with administrators to achieve Pursuit Two: Improving the quality of evidence collected during classroom instruction.

Improving the Quality of Instructional Conversations During Instruction

To support this pursuit, the district mathematics team developed a “look-for” tool to be used during informal and formal classroom observations. The tool is designed to help principals, central office staff, math coaches, instructional team leaders (department chair), and peer observers collect evidence describing how teachers are leveraging the NCTM Teaching Practices (NCTM, 2014) to engage students in the Standards for Mathematical Practice (CCSSO & NGA, 2010). In addition, the tool designers took care to align each section with Charlotte Danielson’s Instructional Framework—a framework that our district uses as a part of our teacher evaluation process.

Professional Learning Activities to Support this Pursuit

During the PCI professional learning sessions, principals engage in a video case study to practice collecting evidence of exemplary mathematics teaching and learning. After a period of time collecting evidence from a recorded lesson, teams of principals share their evidence, thoughts, and observations. Teams scrutinize the quality of evidence collected in an effort to develop a deeper understanding the NCTM Teaching Practices. Following this whole group simulation, curriculum staff schedule school visits to conduct classroom visits with school administrators to provide intensive training on the evidence collection process. The team makes an effort to provide the collaboratively collected feedback to each of our 325 secondary math teachers.

As a result, school-based administrators and central office math leaders have reported that mathematics classroom observations are being conducted with greater consistency. Providing school-based administrators with the knowledge and tools to monitor and support effective mathematics instructions is key to effective mathematics leadership. It ensures that school leaders are focusing their attention on the essential elements of exemplary math instruction. And, if they are not seeing these elements, it provides them with a proactive trigger to secure the professional learning that teachers deserve.

Resource to Support Implementation

  • The Howard County Public School System Offices of Mathematics designed a common “look-for” tool to support site-based leaders in this pursuit. It can be downloaded here.

In the next blog, we will explore strategies and resources to support Improving the quality of formative feedback provided to teachers after instruction. In the meantime, if you have successful strategies that you would like to share, please do so by twitter using #MTBoS or direct tweet me @billjbarnes.

 

Bill Barnes

Bill Barnes is chief academic officer for the Howard County Public School System in Maryland. He is also director of Eastern Region 2 for the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and an adjunct professor.

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