For our most recent Rural Professional Learning Network meeting, we invited Dean Ballard, Director of Math with CORE to share his expertise on Math Mindsets and Intervention Systems. Our district design teams were focused on two essential and guiding questions as part of their Problem of Practice:
- How might we develop a comprehensive math intervention system that provides good first instruction to all students, advancement opportunities, as appropriate and targeted intensive intervention as needed?
- How might we support our students to develop a growth mindset in math, that challenges students while also motivating them and eliminating math anxiety?
With these two questions guiding our district teams, Dean provided a brief, yet comprehensive description of the essentials as it relates to both mindset and intervention systems. In terms of intervention systems, Dean recommend the following: a) leadership team, b) assessment system, c) core instructional practices, and d) a cycle of continuous improvement. He noted that there are several challenges with implementing such a system including but not limited to planning and integrating the intervention with other program and initiatives with other programs and initiatives at the school, ensuring all staff members are working collaboratively, using reliable data and implementing the interventions effectively. Using data from actual clients and schools, Dean was able to show case studies supporting implementation of such practices.
We also provided network members information on the Five Strands of Proficiency and provided a brief video on Jo Boaler, with one of her Four Boosting Messages, and then provided time for reflection and questions. As the network is still in a process of discovery, the expert presentations provided additional information, questions and ideas to inform their design efforts. After participants engaged in a process of discovery, Allison Carter and I modeled an interpret role-play, identifying patterns and themes in real-time allowing participants to see how to best engage in a similar process with interpreting their own data. By the time design teams finished interpreting, many saw the need to gather more information to better understand their schools and districts context, specifically gathering more information on student experiences in math beyond test scores.