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Developing Successful Mathematicians
Beth Bryant

Professor Mahesh Sharma, a 30-year professor of mathematics education, spent the week of Oct. 29 on the Pembroke Hill Wornall Campus.  He served as an adviser and consultant to early childhood and lower school teachers on how best to help children become more proficient in math. 

“We have been very fortunate to have Prof. Sharma with us for an entire week of professional development,” explained Molly Doherty, lower school instructional coach.

During the week, Prof. Sharma taught model math lessons for each grade level from early years to grade five while teachers observed the presentation.  Following each of the lessons, Prof. Sharma met with the grade level teachers.  “All of our teachers had the opportunity to debrief about the lessons and discuss our own math skills and processes that we teach at each level,” Molly explained. 

Prof. Sharma believes, “it is important for teachers to be able to observe how the principles we are discussing can be applied to students of all ages.  Prior to the model lesson, the teachers and I discuss the concepts, the procedures and the language we use to help encourage greater math understanding and competency.  Then I do a demonstration lesson.  After the lesson, we discuss what they observed and how they can incorporate the strategies with their students.”

Mathematics is a language in which children need to develop fluency, Prof. Sharma explained.  To achieve fluency in math, just like in reading, there are specific skills/abilities that must be attained and developed in order to move on to the next level of competency. 

“The feedback we’ve received this week from Prof. Sharma has been invaluable,” Molly said.  “It has been very helpful as we continue to focus on the mastery of specific concepts and skills at each grade level to ensure that our math curriculum provides vertical alignment for our students as they progress from kindergarten through fifth grade. This intentional focus will help us fulfill our goal of having all of our students be successful mathematicians.”