Latest Teaching Lab professional learning session inspires Cincinnati Teachers to pursue excellence with Math learners

By Bob Driehaus

February 4, 2020

StrivePartnership’s collaboration with Cincinnati Public Schools to dramatically improve math proficiency hit another high note with a professional learning session designed to spark ideas and self-reflection.

CPS junior high and high school math teachers were challenged to examine whether they’re teaching in ways that ensure students don’t just pass a test but understand the concepts behind the material.

“There are pieces that I wasn’t doing that I didn’t know I wasn’t doing,” Crystal Watson, seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Hartwell School, said.

CPS is working to increase mathematics achievement and reduce racial and economic disparities as part of the District’s three-year strategic plan and the adoption of a Tier 1 mathematics curriculum district wide by Fall 2020. StrivePartnership, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Teaching Lab, and a significant financial investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are working together to make it happen.

Keeping students on track in mathematics starts with assessing their success at key academic milestones: Kindergarten readiness, third grade, sixth grade and Algebra I. Studies show significant disparities in mathematics proficiency and achievement among certain groups. CPS is working to increase mathematics achievement and reduce racial and economic disparities as part of the district’s three-year strategic plan and the adoption of high-quality and on grade level mathematics curriculum district-wide by Fall 2020.

CPS’s updated mathematics curriculum will ensure that all 36,000 students, regardless of circumstances, will have the advantage of curriculum and instructional practices that will drive higher achievement by the 2020-2021 school year.

Teaching Lab
This process includes ongoing professional learning presented by StrivePartnership and Teaching Lab, a Washington-based non-profit whose mission is “to fundamentally shift the paradigm of teacher professional learning for educational equity.” Through Teaching Lab, educators engage in professional learning that is strongly connected to teacher practice, including cycles of inquiry that deepen their pedagogical content knowledge and allows them to analyze the impact of their instruction through the analysis of student work.

Both teacher and student learning is at the core of changing math outcomes for students in CPS. Ryan Colon, a Teaching Lab Math Fellow, asked how teachers are inviting students into the math, what concepts they’re exploring and how they’re capping that learning. The StrivePartnership and Teaching Lab collaboration works to ensure all students have access to equitable learning experiences through high quality curriculum and engaging instructional practice.

“Personally, I’ve learned a lot from being surrounded by so many powerful educators, not only math educators but people who had ideas I would never think of,” said Erin Vogt, Intervention Specialist, Riverview East Academy.

Kristy Jacob, Riverview East Academy math teacher, said she and 7-12 colleagues have shared information in data meetings that is disseminated to middle school teachers. “So our learning has been able to spark more learning across our building.”

Watson expressed gratitude for the effort.

“The partnership between CPS and StrivePartnership is invaluable. As a newer teacher I don’t feel so new because I am given the opportunity to peel back the onion and observe my own practices and the practices of others,” she said.

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