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Strengthening the Educator Pipeline

Delaware Marigolds Think Outside the Box

DMC leaders are committed to reimagining a system of support for strengthening the educator pipeline and improving teacher retention in mathematics. Participants of the organization’s mentoring induction initiative Leadership Coaching Lab: Growing Math Marigolds Project (LCL) (Longwood Project, 2020), are currently exploring creative ways to “build a stronger and more inclusive pathway to math education.” The efforts augment a range of initiatives being pursued by higher education and state level leaders.

The Marigolds have invested time reflecting about their own reasons for pursuing mathematics education and why they love the profession. They also brainstormed desirable characteristics of a potential future math educator. The list included characteristics such as empathy, being curious, an interest in helping others, valuing community, and finding joy in mathematics, just to name a few.

The teachers conducted interviews of students from their high schools and asked them about their feelings regarding math and whether they had ever considered being a mathematics teacher.

The Marigolds generated potential content-focused activities they could implement to get students interested in the idea of teaching math. One outside of the box idea the team came up with included inviting selected high school students to join them at their professional learning sessions. Other ideas included seeking their input about a lesson they had experienced, engaging in Talking Points or debates about teaching or mathematics, doing math together, and thinking about the teacher’s role in facilitating a mathematics task. The Marigolds also thought it would be interesting to launch a junior Delaware Math (Learning Coalition) involving high school students across the state!

This fall, several Math Marigolds actualized their plans by inviting some of their high school students to join them at the first Leadership Coaching Lab session of the school year. The students sat side-by-side with the teachers as they experienced the professional learning. They did math together, analyzed classroom video, and shared observations related to planning conversations about the lesson. The students were thoughtful, fully engaged in the tasks, and added to the conversations in meaningful ways.

The students talked to the teachers about why they were committed to pursuing the teaching profession. 
One student shared that he was considering becoming an engineer, but after spending the day with the community, he was now leaning towards mathematics education. Another student said she didn’t realize that teachers talked about their lessons in such depth. Another talked about how her interest for teaching grew as a result of a summer experience working with students with language challenges.

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