Math Task Force - March 4, 2016

The March Math Task Force meeting involved further analysis of the stakeholder feedback as well as a final presentation by the Learning Environment subcommittee which observed math classrooms and interviewed teachers and students.

In addition, we discussed the development of a series of position papers which will clearly outline the board’s perspective on those “big ideas” we have discussed over the course of the MTF and which I have written about: Rote vs. Discovery, The Basics, Teacher Generalists vs. Specialists, and others. They are being developed based on our research of the literature, observations in math classrooms in our board, input from the participants on the MTF, our expert advisors, and feedback from hundreds of teachers, administrators, parents, and students at GECDSB. This will help to make the board’s approach to math education clear to everyone across the system, and it will be meaningful because we not only examined research and gathered expert advice - we collected feedback from the people in our system about the strengths and gaps from their own perspectives.  

We also began to populate the recommendations template created by Superintendent Dr. Clara Howitt and her program team, which consists of teacher consultants at the elementary and secondary levels. The template is a chart showing the recommendations, timelines, and owners – in other words, who is responsible. The template will be finalized by the program team and I will be asking that it be posted publicly once all trustees have seen it.

A lot of work has already happened around math education because of the Math Task Force. I wrote in an earlier post that we believe we need to have “all hands on deck”. All of the changemakers need to be able to articulate their role in furthering math education at GECDSB. The importance of mathematics needs to permeate throughout the board and I think it has. If you have been following social media, it is clear that the focus right now is “math, math, math”. We believe this so strongly that all trustees tried their hand at some math problems at a special meeting of the MTF before the March 22 board meeting. We discussed at a very high level the work that the MTF has been doing and had a look at parts of the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum.

The recommendations of the Math Task Force will come before the board at the public Education Committee meeting on April 5. All are welcome to attend! There are boards across the province that are awaiting our recommendations and we will be sharing materials. Before that night, I will be attending “edcampSWO 2016” at Tecumseh Vista Academy on April 2. Here is some information about it. This year, the special guest is renowned educator, Dr. Marian Small, “a leading Canadian mathematics educator”. I look forward to meeting her!

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Jessica Sartori