Math for America-Boston's Programs, Goals, and Core Beliefs

Math for America-Boston (MfA-Boston) works to improve student engagement, interest, and achievement in mathematics by recruiting, training, and retaining expert mathematics teachers for high needs Boston area public high schools. MfA-Boston partners with Boston University and MIT (founding partners) and with mathematicians from Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), Boston College, and PROMYS for Teachers (PfT).

Teachers who participate in Math for America-Boston report that it is a career changing experience that greatly enhances their classroom effectiveness and their students’ mathematical understanding.

Experience-Backed Core Beliefs

•    For teachers to inspire students to achieve in mathematics, teachers must themselves have a strong understanding of mathematics.
•    For students to succeed in mathematics, they must engage creatively with mathematical content.
•    For teachers to facilitate active student engagement, teachers benefit from having had deep mathematical engagements of their own.
•    Teacher engagement with mathematics is enhanced by immersion in mathematics.
•    Such immersion encourages development of the habits of mind of the professional mathematician and expands a strong teacher’s repertoire of effective classroom techniques.
•    Bringing a mathematician’s habits of mind into the classroom strengthens student engagement.
•    Engaging students in mathematics results in more students entering STEM careers, greatly enhancing their personal and our nation’s chances for economic growth and security.   

What MfA-Boston Does and How it Works

PREPARE: The MfA-Boston model for teacher preparation and professional development is quite different from more typical models in that MfA-Boston puts serious mathematics at the core of every aspect of a teacher’s experience and it involves expert teachers as partners in every aspect of the program’s design. Fellows start by completing a one-year master’s program with graduate courses in mathematics and in how mathematics is learned. They receive four years of mentoring and guidance by seasoned teachers of mathematics. Ongoing professional development from our award-winning partners at EDC focuses on teacher-designed ways to bring authentic mathematical experiences into the everyday classroom. All Fellows experience PROMYS for Teachers, the intensive summer immersion in mathematical practice which has been inspiring teachers for over 20 years and is a distinguishing feature of the MfA-Boston program. There are currently 36 Fellows.

RETAIN: We retain exemplary mathematics teachers in the classroom with advanced courses, professional opportunities, stipends, and the recognition of an MfA-Boston Master Teacher Fellowship.  Master Teachers are required to share their expertise with fellow teachers and are given access to a local and national community of peers. We enable already exceptional high school mathematics teachers to deepen their mathematical understanding with further graduate courses and encourage them to develop inspiring teaching materials for students and for other teachers.  We provide regional and national visibility for MfA-Boston Fellows and link them with other MfA teachers from around the country. Retention: 100% of MfA-Boston Fellows continue to work in a high needs middle or high school mathematics department.

MfA Teachers are supported over their careers by a vibrant and interactive professional community comprised of teachers, mathematicians, scientists, and education researchers who work together in study groups on interesting problems and participate in a range of professional and leadership activities that keep mathematics at the core. This community has been active for over 20 years, starting with the PROMYS for Teachers and Focus on Mathematics initiatives led by MfA-Boston founders, Glenn Stevens and Steve Rosenberg.  Community participants learn with and from each other, exploring deeply topics that are rooted in the secondary school mathematics curriculum, and developing projects, activities and lessons that will build a culture of exploration for their students and develop teacher leadership.  This community is the locus in which MfA-Boston Teachers are treated as highly regarded professionals and is vital to keeping MfA-Boston teachers motivated, inspired, and in the classroom.

Six key distinguishing features of MfA-Boston

•    MfA-Boston believes that teachers can effectively teach mathematics only if they have extensive exposure to and understanding of, mathematics. So, MfA-Boston recruits graduates with strong backgrounds in mathematics and requires Fellows to take graduate courses in mathematics, as well as in the teaching of mathematics.  This results in teachers with deep mathematical understanding which translates into greater student understanding;
•    The mentoring provided by MfA-Boston is subject-specific, by expert teachers of mathematics;
•    All MfA-Boston Fellows participate in the rigorous PROMYS for Teachers (PfT) program (described below);
•    Professional development provided by MfA-Boston is more practical than theoretical: it focuses on teacher-designed ways to bring authentic mathematical experiences into the everyday classroom;
•    MfA-Boston creates a rare and mutually respectful environment in which classroom teachers and professional mathematicians work together to improve student learning; and
•    All MfA-Boston Fellows commit to at least four years of teaching in high needs Boston area public schools.

Testimonials

“Being a Master Teacher Fellow has provided me with numerous opportunities to become a better mathematician and a better math teacher.”  Brendon Ferullo, MfA-Boston Master Teacher at Framingham HS, Framingham, MA (nominated for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year)

"I've really enjoyed being a part of MFA. I often wonder if I would still be in this career had I not received this Fellowship and been in touch with so many great people.” MfA-Boston Master Teacher
 
“Through PCMI, coursework at BU, and other professional development opportunities I have had through MfA-Boston, I see my own practice as a teacher improving year after year. I am consistently challenged while being given tools to really make a difference in the mathematical education of my students. This has allowed me to become a leader of math instruction both within my school and in a larger math-ed community…

…I have been asked to give PDs [Professional Development] not only at my own school but throughout the district as well... Although I have received some training in doing it, none of the training outside of MfA has been content-based and thus none of the training I've received outside of MfA has been at all useful in helping me to engage with other teachers in their practice.” Ryan Casey, an MfA-Boston Master Teacher whose classroom in Roxbury was visited by Governor Patrick because of its high MCAS scores.
 
“Immersion in math is *the* way to become a successful math teacher. Much of the professional development at school takes a high level view of pedagogy, so programs like this are crucial in providing content pedagogical expertise that is hard to find in math.” Kim Scheltz, Math Chair at Boston Collegiate Charter School and Supervisor of an MfA-Boston Master Teacher

"PROMYS changed my professional life and my value as a teacher. It introduced me to rigorous mathematical inquiry rooted in the standards of mathematical practice, and brought me into a culture of low-threshold, high-ceiling mathematical exploration that I continue to practice in my own mathematical work (which I do more of because of PROMYS), and facilitate in the mathematics classroom." Andrew Katz, Math Department Head, Lawrence High School Campus, Lawrence, MA. PROMYS for Teachers 2006, 2007 and 2008

“One of the best parts of Math for America Boston is the community that is formed by the fellows and Master teachers. It is great to know that I am part of a community where everyone is excited to about math and about teaching it. I really appreciated having a mentor through Math for America.” Danielle Pike, MfA-Boston Teaching Fellow at Waltham High School, MA

"MfA, PROMYS, and the EDC has made me more comfortable in exploring mathematics by myself and with my students." Tracia Fung, MfA-Boston Master Teacher at Brockton High School, MA

“MFA-Boston has helped me become more exploratory in my approach to both teaching and learning.”  John Gilling, MfA-Boston Teaching Fellow at Seacoast HS, Revere, MA

“Math for America Boston has provided me with an education and community where I can continue to grow as a math teacher for years to come. …I feel privileged to be a part of this community…I feel that my professional development has continued in ways that it would not if I was not involved in the MfA-Boston community because I am able to meet and discuss math education with other likeminded math educators.” Kayla Scheitlin, MfA-Boston Teaching Fellow at Malden HS, Malden, MA

 “I get a lot from the collegiality and sharing between teachers in our meetings. Sharing our experiences, including lesson ideas that have gone well or terribly is incredibly helpful to me.”  Shannon Hammond, MfA-Boston Master Teacher, Math Department Head, University Park Campus School, Worcester, MA

The Massachusetts STEM Teacher Corps

Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget, released on January 22, 2014 includes $250,000 to establish the Massachusetts STEM Teacher Corps through a private/public partnership.  The Massachusetts STEM Teacher Corps was established due to the Governor’s desire to support and recognize STEM teachers and build the next generation of high-quality STEM teachers for the Commonwealth. The Executive Office of Education (EOE) for Massachusetts has stated that mathematics will be a core focus of the corps. Glenn Stevens and Al Cuoco are the mathematicians EOE has invited to be on the planning committee. There is reason to hope that funding from the state of Massachusetts will soon be available to match $1 for every $3 of private funding raised by MfA-Boston to support expert teachers of mathematics in Massachusetts.

Some of the Research Related to Math for America-Boston’s Work

Ball, D.L., Hill, H., & Bass, H. (2005). Knowing mathematics for teaching: Who knows mathematics well enough to teach third grade, and how can we decide? American Educator, 29(3), 14-17, 20-22, 43-46.

Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (2012). The Mathematical Education of Teachers II. Providence RI and Washington    DC: American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America.

Cuoco, A. (2001). Mathematics for teaching. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 28(2), 168-174.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8:1. Obtained from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n1/

Fennema, E., & Franke, M.L. (1992). Teachers’ knowledge and its impact. In D.A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (147-164). New York: MacMillan Publishing Company.

Porter, A.C. (2005). Prospects for school reform and closing the achievement gap. In Measurement and Research in the Accountability Era, Edited by Carol Anne Dwyer – Mahway, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Rivkin, S.G., Hanushek, E.A., & Kain, J.F. (2005). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417-458.

Wilson, S., Floden, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher Preparation Research: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Recommendations. Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington.

Wu, H. H. (1999). On the education of mathematics majors. Contemporary Issues in Mathematics Education, 36, MSRI.4

For more information on MfA-Boston, please click here to visit the Math for America site.  Click here for more information about MfA-Boston.

For more information about the MfA-Boston Master Teacher Fellowships through Boston College, please click here.

Please address inquiries to Kristen Luce: kluce@mathforamerica.org. Tel: 617 358 2388.

Please direct mail to Math for America-Boston, c/o Mathematics Department, Boston University, 111 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215