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CBE's $2M Move to Hire Math Coaches and Specialists

I am writing this in response to the CBC news article regarding Calgary Board of Education putting $2 million dollars into hiring 25 math coaches. (October 11 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/cbe-math-coaches-calgary-schools-tests-teachers-specialists-1.4349500)

I will say good on you CBE! There has been talk for a few years regarding the mathematical crisis in Alberta. I will emphasize TALK because it seems very little action has been/is being taken to help our teachers and students.

The need for numeracy coaches/specialists have been in the forefront of the latest research.

Literacy seems to always take the front seat and Numeracy the back seat and I am just baffled with this as we want our students to be both numerate and literate.

The focus of this article is to put the focus on Grade 6 and 9 to improve test scores. These struggles and challenges are not quick fixes nor is the negative attitude towards mathematics going to be a quick and easy fix when most likely these students in Grade 6 and 9 have been ‘hating’ math since elementary school.

I have been a teacher for 25 years and I have obtained my Masters in elementary math from the University of Alberta in 2012. I have taken a leave of absence Sept. to Dec. to pursue my passion. That passion is to help change the much needed way in ‘how’ we teach mathematics starting in the primary grades.

With this said, I am hoping these 25 coaches are not hired as a bandaid solution which will be short term with the focus being ONLY on test scores These Grade 6 and 9 students are hating math and struggling because they do not have the foundation of number sense which is key to understanding mathematics. To add, these students have probably been sitting at desks learning math as memorized rules and procedures and then working through textbooks and worksheets to practice.

Students at all levels need to be engaged in active, rich, and meaningful tasks that allow for conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. To add, they need to be in classroom environment where they can see the beauty and creativity in mathematics. If all this is in place beginning in the primary grades our students will not only be highly successful in mathematics by Grade 6, they will ACTUALLY LOVE MATH!

No bandaids or quick fixes! So CBE, take the lead and invest this money wisely to change the culture of how mathematics is taught. I can guarantee you if you put coaches into your elementary grades, you will not need to fix problems at the Grade 6 and 9 level!

 

Yours in education,

Darlene Kusick

Your Turn!

What are your thoughts about this move that CBE is taking? Do you feel that these numeracy coaches will make a larger impact at upper elementary versus lower elementary? Do you feel a coach would help at your school for your students and teachers?

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