Elementary Mathematics: Math Leaders Initiative
Columbia Public Schools has partnered with the University of Missouri in the Missouri Elementary Math Leaders Initiative.
This program, funded by the National Science Foundation through the University of Missouri (grant #1852822), includes 12 elementary school teachers from various buildings and grade levels in Columbia Public Schools. These teachers are working toward their Elementary Math Specialist Certification and will serve as leaders in math education within our district. Following their degree completion in the summer of 2021, MEMLI will continue to be funded until 2025. The National Science Foundation and the University of Missouri will support Fellows as they lead the way to improve equity in mathematics instruction throughout CPS.
This program provided the following experiences for its Fellows:
- Read and discussed The Impact of Identity in K-8 Mathematics: Rethinking Equity-Based Practices by Aguirre, Mayfield-Ingram, & Martin (2013). Members read this book to learn about their own math identities and that of their students. The book offers ideas for making math equitable for all students. Teachers identified ways to get to know their students’ multiple identities, affirm those identities through their mathematics instruction, and promote positive attitudes towards mathematics for each student by understanding and drawing on student strengths.
- Explored historic and current inequities in math education. MEMLI members studied data in relation to segregation of schools and disparities in discipline, funding, access to opportunities, and achievement based on race and income.
- Developed and implemented action plans in school-based teams, several of which addressed issues of equity in mathematics such as ability grouping.
- Kept and shared journals documenting efforts to address issues of identity and practices to support marginalized students. Teachers were paired to brainstorm and implement plans to support a student who lacked opportunities to engage in rich mathematics. In doing this, they increased awareness of student needs and were able to implement instructional strategies to support each of their students.
- Conducted a detailed analysis of student participation patterns in their mathematics instruction according to race, gender, language proficiency, and other student characteristics. After creating a video of their teaching, members used the Equity QUantified In Participation (EQUIP) tool to analyze data about who they called on, the amount of wait time allowed, and the types of questions asked. These analyses were shared and discussed in a collaborative session. This exercise raised awareness about potential inequities in how students are encouraged to participate in mathematics discussions. It also provided opportunities to discuss with other teachers solutions for more equitable instruction.
- Through coursework, examined data highlighting inequities in society such as wealth distribution, school spending patterns, and racial disparities in law enforcement. Teachers created and shared a presentation exploring data related to an issue of their choosing; many examined data showing how social resources like jobs, education, loans, etc., are often distributed unfairly.