It is often assumed that to be a good math teacher one just needs to master the content. In a recent report, 6/23/11, published in the Education Forum of the Science journal, it was noted that there is little evidence that courses in advanced math contribute to more effective teaching. Dr. Brent Davis states that explicit subject matter knowledge is important but equally important is the ability to translate that information at many different levels and in many different ways. Math teachers must become comfortable with the “less clear, or tacit knowledge in mathematics as well”. The deeper the understanding of underlying principles by the teacher, the greater will be their ability to develop lessons based upon comprehension rather than solely by rote memorization.
Raising the standards for students first requires us to raise the standards for our teachers. We need to better prepare our math teachers for teaching under the guidelines set forth in the Common Core State Standards. Instruction of middle school math teachers in America does not result in teachers with “an internationally competitive level of mathematics knowledge. The goal of this program is to raise the current standards of teacher training and preparation to more closely align with the State Standards set for our students. Our belief is that expert teachers have a wealth of knowledge about the curriculum and the handling of classroom routines and this allows them to become successful instructors.
The Institute of MERIT is fortunate to have received a grant from the New York State Education Department to fully fund a three year teacher leadership program for teachers in grades K-9. This program has been funded since 1986, when Dr. Jong Pil Lee had the foresight and desire to help improve the mathematics teaching of instructors from New York City and Long Island Schools. Since that first class nearly 1000 teachers have participated at the Institute Leadership Training for Teaching Mathematics and Technology. Initially grants were only able to fund one class per year so a rotation was designed to work with Elementary teachers followed by Middle School Teachers and then High School teachers. For the past few years we have successfully been able to double our efforts and run two programs simultaneously. We are continuing to look at additional resources in order to be able to fund each of the different grade levels every year.