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Teachers help teachers highlight the ‘beauty of mathematics’

In O’Donnell Hall room 46, there is a special group of ladies that strives every day to help students understand and comprehend the difficult world of math.

Mathematically Connected Communities (MC2) is a program funded by the New Mexico Public Education Department, the U.S. Department of Education Math-Science Partnership and the Higher Education Department. MC2 is made up of teachers, administrators, mathematicians and researchers who dedicate themselves to creating a learning community between educators, mathematicians and public school leaders within the state.

Teacher Leaders assist students at the Las Cruces Summer MathLabs. (Photo by Adan Contreras/Kokopelli)

MC2 is research based and aims to improve the way math is taught, so that the learning results are authentic and meaningful. “[MC2 is about] working with public school teachers… to try to get them to change how they conduct their math classes, to have it more [about] listening to the kids, rather than telling the kids what to think,” said Senior Program Manager Kathe Kanim.

During the summer, MC2 holds Summer MathLabs in which teachers throughout the state observe student learning in elementary, middle school and high school settings. The students are in one room being taught by MC2 teacher leaders and a live video is being streamed to another room that is full of teachers who are observing the way they are teaching and how the students learn using MC2 methods.

Following the Summer MathLabs, MC2 holds a week-long Math Institute in which teachers who attended Summer MathLabs can further increase their knowledge of positive and instructional methods of teaching math in the classroom.

“I come to work because I believe in the principles and the values that we stand for — that children’s voices are important and that children bring a lot of knowledge to the table.”

Throughout the year, the MC2 employees visit different school districts to provide on-site support to the teachers in those districts. The on-site support includes classroom assistance that is tailored to the needs of  each classroom.

Teachers observe new methods of teaching mathematics at the Las Cruces Summer MathLabs. (Photo by Adan Contreras/Kokopelli)

MC2 has multiple field specialists who work in grade bands of K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and high school. They each bring a unique way of looking at and understanding how math is taught and how children learn through various teaching methods.

Every person on the MC2 team is dedicated to making it easier for students to comprehend math. Program Director Wanda Bulger-Tamez said what first got her into MC2 was she wanted to “create math courses that were for teachers that would actually help them learn math [and] support what they teach in the classroom.”

Rather than take multiple upper-level math courses, MC2 creates an environment where teachers can learn how to better themselves as educators. Teachers can take what they learn from MC2 and apply it immediately in their classrooms, which ultimately benefits their students.

According to Bulger-Tamez, “working with teachers to design math lessons for their kids that really help highlight the beauty of mathematics” is what drives her.

The people at MC2 seem to truly care about the people with whom they work and want to improve the way math is taught. Program co-director Lisa Matthews said: “I come to work because I believe in the principles and the values that we stand for — that children’s voices are important and that children bring a lot of knowledge to the table.”

The MC2 team works day in and day out to make sure that public school kids around the state can learn math in a way they can relate to and comprehend in order to realize their full potential.

 

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