The trajectory for students’ engagement and success in math begins well before they start their first day of kindergarten. Math Early On, a professional development project funded by the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, aims to shape this trajectory by helping preschool teachers become more strategic, observant and reflective in mathematics instruction. Math Early On builds upon the success of UNL’s NebraskaMATH: Primarily Math professional development model, adapting and extending it for use with preschool teachers and children.
The two-year project will develop and test professional development for preschool teachers in Nebraska Educare schools, which serve more than 700 at-risk children statewide, from birth to age 5. This project involves three Educare schools, as well as Omaha school directors, master teachers, lead teachers and assistant teachers.
The long-term goal of Math Early On is to strengthen the capacity of pre-kindergarten mathematics teachers through professional development that is feasible and acceptable for teachers in the Educare Learning Network, while effective in enhancing children’s mathematics learning.
To accomplish this goal, the project will:
- Modify the Primarily Math professional development content to meet the mathematics education needs of preschool teachers, families and schools
- Facilitate leadership development in mathematics education for Educare school directors and master teachers.
- Provide support structures needed to translate ideas learned in professional development to classroom practice and partnerships with parents.
At the end of the pilot project, plans will begin to scale up the initial Math Early On professional development efforts to the broader Educare Learning Network nationwide. These plans will be based on information gathered through ongoing analysis of project data, which are designed to inform research questions.