MathAmigos Inspiring Teachers

by Penny Holcomb, AmeriCorps VISTA

On Saturday, October 20, MathAmigos hosted a day-long workshop for 27 teachers from the five Airport Road corridor schools: Sweeney Elementary, El Camino Real Academy, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Ramirez Thomas Elementary, and Nina Otero Community School. The collaborative working group’s goal was to empower teachers to inspire their students to love math.

This workshop was the first in a series MathAmigos will offer to this cohort of teachers during the 2018-2019 school year thanks to a grant from the City of Santa Fe’s Children and Youth Commission. Teachers from these five schools will receive professional development in innovative math practices to help improve instruction and improve student engagement.

By all measures, the day was a success. Many leaders from Santa Fe Public Schools—including Dr. Melissa Lomax and Peter McWain, Executive and Assistant Directors of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and School Board Member Mauren Cashmon — attended the sessions alongside the teachers. The three sessions were packed with creative techniques that teachers can immediately utilize in their classrooms. Additionally, to bolster their confidence, each teacher will have a MathAmigos “coach” to provide them with the support they need to be successful in the classroom.

The takeaway messages from instructors and MathAmigos members Dean Gerber, Delara Sharma, and James Taylor were simple: Success at math involves repeated attempts – and failures. If a problem is too big, break it down into smaller components. Finally, there are many different ways to solve a problem; let your students enjoy the pleasure of discovering solutions on their own.

By the end of the day the teachers were buzzing with energy and excitement at the prospect of reaching students in new ways and enlivening their classrooms with Exploding Dots, Cuisenaire Rods and Math Circles.

MathAmigos is one of 13 collaborative working groups supported by Opportunity Santa Fe and received funding from the City of Santa Fe’s Children and Youth Commission. The group is comprised of passionate mathematicians and scientists who are committed to helping Santa Fe Public Schools children face the future prepared with the math they need to get the jobs they want.