• Our Greatest Investments

  • Jayuntay Williams
    District Instructional Specialist, Math

    As our world becomes more demanding of innovation and creativity, educators must continue to grow and extend their practices to meet the needs of our diverse learners. Scholars and teachers are our greatest investments. In the words of Marzano, "One of the most powerful things a school can do to help enhance student achievement is to guarantee that specific content is taught in specific courses and grade levels regardless of the teacher to whom a student is assigned." As a District Instructional Specialist for Math, I aim to ensure that our scholars have access to high-quality curriculum that engages them in grade-level content. Our scholars should be engaged in various aspects of rigor as they develop a conceptual understanding of math that they can use to engage in procedural skill, fluency, and application of math in real-world contexts. 

    What shows up in our instruction and interaction with scholars is our beliefs. All educators must develop an asset-based approach. All scholars come to us with something. As educators, we are responsible for cultivating the students' experiences and interests as we ensure they are engaged in and supported with mastery of grade-level content. I recently came across a podcast from Make Math Moments about mindsets and beliefs as crucial components to strengthen math programs. As they described a strong, healthy tree, they attributed mindsets and beliefs to the soil, sunlight, and water needed. As these are the most important factors of growth, it further demonstrates educators' impact on the lives of scholars. When we believe they can achieve, we make instructional decisions to accommodate the needs of our scholars to make that vision of success a reality. 

    This mindset shift that has to occur for many teachers is made more transparent and imperative through targeted, logically sequenced professional development to support teachers throughout the school year. Our Accelerations Schools math teachers of Charleston County School District are engaged in professional development consistently. From engaging in best practices using the Instructional Practices Guide (IPG) to effectively implement the Bridges and Illustrative Math curriculums to weekly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings, our district team has focused on investing in teachers, math coaches, and administrators. It is through learning and collaboration that teachers grow their content knowledge and pedagogy. After teachers, coaches, and administrators engage in a shared learning experience, learning intended from the content cycles must be continued through the PLC leaders, math coaches, administration, and district team support with support from our educational partners, Leading Educators. Make Math Moments described PD Structures as another way to strengthen a math program.

    Further, the analogy of having sustainable, supportive, actionable professional development that creates change was limbs of a tree. After researching the role of limbs on a tree, I found that limbs play the role of structural support for the leaves, fruits, and flowers the tree produces. They are also the vessels that carry water from the soil to the leaves and the food from the leaves to the rest of the tree. The significance of the role of the limbs on a tree was very affirming! We have to provide opportunities for the growth and development of our teachers and leaders as we aim to close the opportunity gap by providing an equitable education through the use of high-quality curriculum and best practices that promote conceptual understanding and problem-solving while allowing scholars to become fluent in math skills to use those skills to solve problems in real-world context flexibly. In the words of Michael Bonner, "You can't demand a withdrawal a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in." We invest in you, the scholars, teachers, coaches, and administrators because WE WILL EXCEL!