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A Window into Math Coaching at Teaching Matters

by Jennifer Gleason

At Teaching Matters, our coaches and team members embrace collaboration and innovation while holding themselves to the highest standards. These values are not only evident in our work in schools, with students, teachers and leaders, but also in our internal collaborations and communications. This blog post highlights how our math coaches in particular work with teachers and school leaders as well as how they use core tools and frameworks to ensure high quality math instruction. 

When a school partners with Teaching Matters on professional development in math, they typically work closely with one dedicated math coach who supports teachers and leaders in improvement. Behind that one math coach is a team of content experts with diverse backgrounds who support each other to deliver high quality work to schools. They are available to troubleshoot challenges, push each other’s thinking, and share emerging research or best practices in math.  

Our math team looks forward to monthly professional growth days where we share artifacts from our practice, and provide critical feedback to improve the work. Recently, one of our math coaches said that each week she asks herself, “Would I be proud to share this work with my colleagues?”. This example and many more demonstrates how we hold ourselves accountable to the students and teachers we work with, as well as each other while creating a safe space for learning and innovation. When coaches interrogate their practice together, schools benefit from multiple perspectives on the work.  

As math coaches, we use a few core tools and frameworks to anchor our work and provide a common language and a vision for high quality math instruction.  

  • Our Framework for Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education: Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-SE) anchors all of our professional development and partnerships with districts and schools. Cultural competence, as the cornerstone of our work, is essential to how administrators, teachers, students, and parents communicate, interact, think, and learn. CR-SE is the underpinning of all our services in order to foster linguistic and cultural pluralism, and validate and affirm the cultural identity of our students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Teaching Practices: NCTM has published a set of 8 teaching practices along with student and teacher look-fors that articulate high leverage practices for enacting equitable and rigorous math instruction.  This set of teaching practices is versatile and can be used with any high quality curricula, and it provides a clear set of look-fors that support teachers in goals setting and monitoring their own progress. 
  • Learning Acceleration: In this current moment, schools are grappling with how to support students who have missed significant opportunities to learn during the pandemic. TNTP and Zearn have summarized important evidence on how to respond to this challenge.  Learning acceleration, providing just-in-time support to students so that they can access grade level content, is backed by research and will ensure students are on-track and ready for future success in high school and beyond. As teachers recognize that students missed instructional time and opportunities, the temptation is to remediate: teach all of the content that they missed. Instead, we need teachers to ask themselves, what do students need right now to be successful in accessing grade level content? This shift in thinking is important and backed by research, however it requires deep content knowledge and high quality professional learning (Zearn and TNTP Report, 2021).

These core tools and frameworks and the collaboration that consistently takes place among our math team make Teaching Matters a desirable place for math experts who are committed to making equitable, culturally responsive, and high quality math instruction accessible to all students to make a difference, learn and grow. If you are passionate about math coaching and want to empower teachers to reach their full potential, we’d love to hear from you.