Barancik Foundation renews grant for training of math teachers to facilitate student progress in subject

Sarasota County School District points to effectiveness of the initiative

Image from the Barancik Foundation website

Thanks to the “overwhelming success “of last year’s program funded by a grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota County elementary teachers will continue to get special training to help them plan lessons that are expected to result in students “overcoming math anxiety and finding success in math class,” the Sarasota County School District has announced.

The foundation is providing $480,000 for the district to hire a mathematics expert, train teams of teachers, purchase study materials for the youngest students and hire an evaluator for this second-year effort, a news release says.

“The goal is to change the way elementary teachers approach math lessons,” the release explains. “Research suggests that when it comes to student performance in the subject, an effective teacher has two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including technology, facilities and school administration,” the release adds.

“The teacher is the critical component of student success and we want to invest in the human capital inside the classroom,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Barancik Foundation, in the release.

In addition to providing a math expert and special training, the release continues, the initiative will allow teams of teachers to collaborate on math lesson plans. Teachers on a team will have the opportunity to engage in “instructional rounds” as they attempt to perfect their lesson plans, the release notes. “Instructional rounding is the process of having teachers and administrators observe and reflect on lessons being taught,” the release points out. The concept is based on the medical model of teams of health care professionals observing patients together and planning the next steps in their care, the release explains.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to build on the training last year and continue to provide the gift of time to our teachers so they are able to collaborate with their colleagues,” said Laura Kingsley, executive director of elementary education for Sarasota County Schools, in the release. “Our teachers deserve more time to plan together than the time that is currently allocated. We know that when teachers have time to learn together, analyze student work together and then plan engaging lessons together, they build a collective sense of efficacy that translates into student achievement.”

Kingsley praised the summer work completed by school district math specialists Sue D’Angelo and Alicia Charbonneau, which provides guidelines for elementary math teachers, the release adds.

“Teachers are going to be so grateful for this invaluable resource that allows them to be less reliant on textbook resources so they can emphasize developing students’ ‘math mentality’ for solving complex problems,” Kingsley said in the release.

The elementary math teacher-training initiative is funded through June 2018, the release notes.