An American Experience

After more than 18 months working with schools in New Hampshire to introduce the Mathematics Task Centre way of working and resources, Dr. Dick Evans responded in the following way to an inquiry from a fellow American interested in beginning the project. Dr. Evans could be contacted for further information at:

Green Line

It is a great program, but don't short sell the need for professional development. The fascinating thing about this was that the teachers who had attended introductory sessions done by Charles Lovitt the previous year were the people who asked the administrators to get the schools involved. In other words, it was a "grass roots" project. Most of the administrators were excited to see that their teachers were excited about doing the project. From there on, it sold itself.
I would strongly recommend having either Doug Williams or Charles Lovitt do some introductory sessions about the program. If you think about it, it was having seen aspects of the project in action that excited you about doing it.

I think having Charles or Doug run workshops and, if possible involving a teacher of the program to share his/her experiences and 'tricks of the trade' would be very helpful. We had Michael Ymer, who is a teacher of Grades 3, 4, and 5 outside of Melbourne and who has helped 2 schools implement the program, spend some time with the teachers in conjunction with one of Charles' visits. He gave our teachers lots of insights that even Charles or Doug could not give. He also provided lots of practical suggestions of using the program on a daily basis. This is very important.

It is a great program, but don't short sell the need for professional development. Some additional comments from our experience which might guide you are:

  1. You need to get a commitment by the teachers and administration in the school to work on implementing the program.
  2. Your teachers will need to have some training in using the tasks, and they will need to be familiar with the tasks as they have students implement them. We found the teachers who had a week or two of just becoming familiar with the tasks were more likely to use them and have a better understanding of how to use them.
  3. I found going to the schools and working with the teachers to present lessons was very helpful to them. It also made them less nervous about implementing them.
  4. We also found that having sessions after school to discuss the process and to work on some activities was very helpful. The teachers really enjoyed that. The teachers will need lots of support.

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