TITLE: NBS#293: "State's Helping Corps adds muscle to math-weak schools"
CATEGORY: Teacher Professional Development

A pioneering program in Washington state aims to help improve teaching at
schools with persistently low math test scores. The Mathematics Helping Corps
sends highly-effective teachers into elementary and middle schools in
Seattle, Tacoma, and other communities to help other teachers improve their
math lessons. Research has shown that this type of on-site coaching is much
more effective than workshops at honing teaching skills.

One of the challenges for the teachers who work in the program, however, is
building the trust of the colleagues they aim to help. Some teachers feel
threatened by the Corps. One teacher admitted that she had always feared
math. After Helping Corps teacher Steve DePaul led her class through a
problem-solving exercise, however, she got excited about trying new ways to
teach the subject. Another middle-school teacher decided he liked math so
much that he would go back to school for more training.

But progress is slow. Though 16 schools volunteered for the program this
year, in nine of those schools, less than half the faculty was enthusiastic
about it. "You just keep probing for an opening," says Helping Corps teacher
Reg Waddoups.

SOURCE: Seattle Times, 22 June 2000


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