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Mathematics Community Continuum: A Multi-Leveled Partnership Approach to Professional Development
Unformatted Document Text:  Mathematics Community Continuum: A multi-leveled partnership approach to professional development Content The current Federal exigency for highly qualified teachers in every classroom and focus on teacher accountability has created a plethora of routes to teacher certification and continuing education. This urgent situation has placed a burden on schools of education to approach teacher education in creative and expedited ways, while concurrently placing focus on content knowledge and research-based pedagogy. In response to this challenging situation we have designed a community continuum that expands and redefines the traditional relationship among schools of education, colleges of arts and sciences, and school districts. This continuum builds a reciprocal community using multi-level mentoring, site-based professional development, shared expertise, and research to facilitate teacher growth and learning of prospective and practicing teachers, school administrators, and university faculty. In the following sections we describe specific details of how we are currently implementing this community continuum using mathematics as a content vehicle and an inner city charter school as a ripe mini-district context to study teacher learning and development. As part of this description we provide a synthesis of relevant literature that framed the development of this continuum, as well as why this context provides a rich window for studying professional development, particularly in the area of mathematics. Finally, we outline how the data collected from a parallel research study of this continuum informs university policy regarding alternative structures for teacher education that address Federal demands and provide a model for exemplary design of university-school partnerships. Details of Community Continuum Our community continuum is a long-term (2 years), on-site professional development project that exists among a school of education, a mathematics department, and a high need, urban charter school. This project centers around three primary tenets: (1) practicing elementary teachers, who are learning about mathematics and instruction, (2) prospective teachers in a traditional university elementary education program, who need experiences in reform models of mathematics teaching in diverse settings, and (3) school administrators who work directly with teaching staff in developing and supervising mathematics curriculum and practice. (see Figure 1) This effort is in response to this school’s history of low student achievement and our Nation's promise of a Highly Qualified teacher in every classroom, particularly in mathematics. This school provides a unique and rich context for this project for three primary reasons: (1) a large percentage of under-qualified teachers, exasperated by high teacher turnover; (2) flexibility to create and implement curriculum innovation; and (3) a diverse setting to explore the design and implementation of professional development. Effective professional development can be an invaluable foundation for high-quality, reform-oriented teaching, which can then lead to student learning. The community continuum goals are thus focused on teachers and include: increasing teacher knowledge, supporting and mentoring teachers in efforts to align practice in ways that improve students' mathematical understandings and ultimately students' achievement, and building a school community that nurtures teacher leadership and collaborations with prospective teachers, administrations, and the mathematics educational community. Figure 1: Mathematic Community Continuum AACTE 06 Proposal–page 1 Content Instruction & Assessment Math Teaching

Authors: Brown, Nancy. and Benken, Babette.
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Mathematics Community Continuum: A multi-leveled partnership approach to
professional development
Content
The current Federal exigency for highly qualified teachers in every classroom and focus
on teacher accountability has created a plethora of routes to teacher certification and continuing
education. This urgent situation has placed a burden on schools of education to approach teacher
education in creative and expedited ways, while concurrently placing focus on content
knowledge and research-based pedagogy. In response to this challenging situation we have
designed a community continuum that expands and redefines the traditional relationship among
schools of education, colleges of arts and sciences, and school districts. This continuum builds a
reciprocal community using multi-level mentoring, site-based professional development, shared
expertise, and research to facilitate teacher growth and learning of prospective and practicing
teachers, school administrators, and university faculty.
In the following sections we describe specific details of how we are currently
implementing this community continuum using mathematics as a content vehicle and an inner
city charter school as a ripe mini-district context to study teacher learning and development. As
part of this description we provide a synthesis of relevant literature that framed the development
of this continuum, as well as why this context provides a rich window for studying professional
development, particularly in the area of mathematics. Finally, we outline how the data collected
from a parallel research study of this continuum informs university policy regarding alternative
structures for teacher education that address Federal demands and provide a model for exemplary
design of university-school partnerships.
Details of Community Continuum
Our community continuum is a long-term (2 years), on-site professional development
project that exists among a school of education, a mathematics department, and a high need,
urban charter school. This project centers around three primary tenets: (1) practicing elementary
teachers, who are learning about mathematics and instruction, (2) prospective teachers in a
traditional university elementary education program, who need experiences in reform models of
mathematics teaching in diverse settings, and (3) school administrators who work directly with
teaching staff in developing and supervising mathematics curriculum and practice. (see Figure 1)
This effort is in response to this school’s history of low student achievement and our
Nation's promise of a Highly Qualified teacher in every classroom, particularly in mathematics.
This school provides a unique and rich context for this project for three primary reasons: (1) a
large percentage of under-qualified teachers, exasperated by high teacher turnover; (2) flexibility
to create and implement curriculum innovation; and (3) a diverse setting to explore the design
and implementation of professional development. Effective professional development can be an
invaluable foundation for high-quality, reform-oriented teaching, which can then lead to student
learning. The community continuum goals are thus focused on teachers and include: increasing
teacher knowledge, supporting and mentoring teachers in efforts to align practice in ways that
improve students' mathematical understandings and ultimately students' achievement, and
building a school community that nurtures teacher leadership and collaborations with prospective
teachers, administrations, and the mathematics educational community.
Figure 1: Mathematic Community Continuum
AACTE 06 Proposal–page 1
Content
Instruction &
Assessment
Math Teaching


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