"Coaches are catalysts for intelligent, informed experimentation. They encourage and delight in the evolution of skilled practice that allows for individual creative expression, and a persistent quest to improve student achievement."
- Lucy West, Coaching for Leadership
Mathematics specialists and coaches have unique learning needs in addition to the learning needs of classroom teachers or administrators. Because of the nature of their work, specialists need to be experts not only in content and the art of teaching, but also in building relationships to support teachers in developing their teaching practice.
Having an in-depth knowledge of mathematics is vital for any successful specialist. Mathematics concepts are like connecting blocks; concepts are linked to each other and understanding one is foundational to understanding others. Teachers should be supported to design mathematics instruction that emphasizes the interconnectedness of mathematics concepts, rather than present mathematics concepts in isolation. Mathematics specialists need to know developmental progressions of mathematical concepts and utilize them in their work with teachers.
Pedagogical knowledge is also a vital component for a successful mathematics coaching program. Pedagogical knowledge and mathematical knowledge go hand in hand in effective mathematics instruction. A teacher may begin with a strong, in-depth knowledge of the content, but understanding how students learn, process and retain information is a career-long endeavor. Mathematics coaches must have a deep understanding of a variety of teaching and assessment practices, including differentiation, to support teachers in this journey.
Strong working relationships are the cornerstone of successful collaboration, including specialist-teacher partnerships. Building relationships that demonstrate mutual respect and develop trust is a skill that takes time and commitment. Working with specialists often makes teachers feel vulnerable and can create anxiety. Specialists can use their interpersonal skills and knowledge of how to build relationships to alleviate these concerns and contribute to a successful coaching experience.
Specialists, coaches and leaders can find more information about Mathematical Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Building Relationships in the pages of this website. Click on the links to the left to explore one or all of these options.
"Coaches who inherently value each teacher are often valued themselves."
- AnneMarie B. Jay, JSD, 2009
Thank you to the
funding this project.