Yes, ongoing, sustained and classroom-based professional development
for teachers at the Elementary Level is critical. We are in our
second year of doing this at the Williston schools. Last year the
schools had a resident math specialist who now works district wide.
This year I'm doing the same in science K - 8 and Math 5 - 8. I think
the key is to focus on teachers mathematical understanding or
quantitative literacy in a generic sense and then look at the
application of this knowledge to the specific program being used.
There is wide philosophical variation between the programs (e.g.
Everyday Math v Investigations). Both programs, and probably all the
others, require that teachers have a better undetrstanding of the
mathematics involved than do the traditional text book programs.
The other important component is community support. An informed and
knowledgeable group of parents makes a major difference in the
implementation of these math programs. To develop this we have been
implementing Math Nights with considerable success.
Best wishes. Tim
Tim Whiteford PhD
Math/Science Curriculum Coordinator
Williston Schools, Vermont