Moving the Needle: Student-Centered Instruction at CMS

Over the past 2 years, Coherent Math has had the pleasure of partnering with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to support 8 high schools in their implementation of Math 1. This partnership has included coaching, unpacking lessons, co-planning PLC meetings, co-teaching, and visiting classrooms in an overall effort to work together to find the high-leverage moves that best support students to be successful in and enjoy mathematics. (Learn more about the Coherent Math-CMS curriculum here.) 

Here are some of our key takeaways:

  • The two ingredients most visible in classrooms that have moved from a teacher-centered approach to a student-centered one are lesson preparation and the teacher’s belief in students being able to think mathematically. 
  • Preparing for a single lesson the first year or two of teaching a new curriculum requires a solid plan: 1) Name the big ideas of the lesson by reading the lesson goals, narrative, and debrief, and completing the cool-down. 2) Do the math of the lesson. 3) Talk with colleagues about how the math of the lesson, the discussion questions, the instructional routines, and the responsive strategies help students reach the goals of the lesson.
  • The process of internalizing lessons takes time. Fully prepared teachers acknowledge the initial time investment required to understand the goals of the lesson, know what to monitor for, and focus the discussions appropriately—but the end results of smoothly running lessons and students discussing and learning mathematics make each day more enjoyable for everyone.
  • “Live practice”  – the act of rehearsing a lesson activity during a PLC meeting – is one of the best professional learning practices. To do it well requires time, trust, openness for feedback, and a desire for improvement.
  • Teaching is hard work. Teachers who collaborate and seek out support to improve their practice are the ones who facilitate classrooms where students are engaged and learning mathematics rather than just doing mathematics.
  • Students meet the expectations of their teachers. This reality can have positive or negative consequences. 
  • Support from administration matters. Teachers deserve coherent messaging and prioritization around their practice. 
  • Strategic support moves the needle. Implementation of grade-level, problem-based, student-centered content has increased in all of the schools where Coherent Math has partnered.

          

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