There’s a difference between seeing results from afar and seeing the challenges, successes, and failures that led to the effect up close. Sometimes you need to be there in person to understand what exactly is going on.
Capital Region ESD 113’s very own Regional Math Administrator, Daniel Kent, has taken it upon himself to see things firsthand through his Math on Tour campaign.
His goal is to find the actual challenges that teachers and students face in math classrooms by seeing them firsthand and using the data he collects to address the problems.
Those in the classrooms will be the biggest beneficiaries.
“Where it started was this desire to see what was going on,” says Kent. “I wanted to get a sense of how math was being taught, how students are engaging in the thinking, and the conversations that they were having around it.
“A lot of things are fluctuating and different right now coming out of COVID and getting back into the classroom.”
Kent is a former middle and high-school-level math teacher. He taught for eight years before moving to ESD 113 three years ago.
He got the idea to start going directly to school while doing some professional reading.
The author of the book he was reading went to 40 schools to understand what classrooms were truly like in person. He figured that there were 44 school districts within the Educational Service District 113’s footprint, so it was close enough.
His plans quickly were altered when he started going to more than one school in some districts. He’s been to anywhere from one to seven schools per district in his travels. He estimates he’ll end up closer to 150 by the end of his journey.
“Almost every district has been super welcoming and super on board,” adds Kent. “[They’re] excited to not only have me come in a check things out, but wanting to have conversations that go beyond that. They want to know what I’m seeing and what kind of steps we can take.”
For Kent, the most underrated part of the tour are the relationships he’s been able to develop with the teachers. He doesn’t want that part to be overlooked. Seeing things with his own eyes matters to him, the teachers, and the students.
“It kind of gets pushed off to the side, but it really is one of the critical things that I’m trying to do, through all this data collection,” stated Kent. “The other is to give myself, through data collection, an idea of moving forward what kind of supports do we need as a region.
“What are the best things that I can provide to teachers that are going to give them that that next step or that high leverage point to really change what math instruction looks like and make and make mathematics accessible for every student? The ultimate goal is to really inform me of what the teacher needs are moving forward to support students.”
Kent has visited 11 school districts so far and has five more already lined up for visits as of February 2022.