CEMELA's approach to teacher education aims to:
- Strengthen teachers' ability to promote Latinos' achievement in mathematics in K-8 classrooms through their expanded knowledge of mathematics and the use of linguistically and culturally responsive learning environments; and
- Strengthen preservice teachers' preparation for teaching mathematics to English Language Learners through a holistic approach that incorporates challenging mathematical tasks, effective teaching practices, community knowledge, and linguistic aspects.
A unique feature of CEMELA is its focus on parental/family engagement in mathematics education. CEMELA's approach to its work with families aims to:
- Develop a partnership with parents / families that recognizes and builds on their knowledge about their children's ways of knowing, communicative styles, and socioculturally mediated ways of learning; and
- Expand on our prior work with parents and mathematics by further refining a model for parental engagement that is grounded on the concept of parents as intellectual resources.
In the sections below we expand on CEMELA's approach to professional development, preservice teacher education, and the family/parental component.
Teacher Professional Development
Professional development focuses on the intellectual communities of teachers that work to transform and improve the mathematics learning of low-income Latino students through the (a) study of K-8 mathematics from an advanced standpoint, so as to broaden and deepen teachers' understanding of the content, (b) examination of K-8 mathematics curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy, informed by understandings of Latinos' language and culture, and (c) critical discussion of research on mathematics teaching and learning, language, and culture.
Center Faculty and Fellows, and Teacher Leaders collaborate to design and implement the professional development activities, which reflect the interplay of mathematics, language, and community/cultural knowledge:
- Courses and Lesson Study. Through CEMELA, elementary certified mathematics teachers in schools with high enrollments of Latino students take five courses in mathematics and mathematics pedagogy (taught by mathematicians and mathematics educators) to earn advanced degrees. A subset of these teachers also participate in lesson study activities, which combine the work of teaching, learning about teaching, and designing lessons while advancing teachers' understanding of the mathematics to be taught. What is known and being learned about linguistically and culturally responsive learning environments inform their work.
- Study Group. Teachers in K-8 schools take part in whole-school study groups as their professional development. These study groups are collaborative social settings intended to facilitate long-term, regular interactions among participants to deepen their understanding of the "big ideas" in mathematics, examine instruction based on those ideas, engage in analysis of student work, and present action research findings to co-participants - all informed by the participants' expanding understanding of mathematics, language, and culture.
- Summer Institute. This component addresses the teaching and learning of mathematics for Latino students. Some institutes will be yearly events attended by the same teachers, with follow-up professional development during the school year. To disseminate "lessons learned" and CEMELA materials, we plan to collaborate with existing summer institutes in our local areas.
Preservice Teacher Education
Through the design of CEMELA Modules, the Center incorporates research-based ideas from language and culture into existing mathematics content and pedagogy courses for preservice K-8 teachers. The CEMELA Modules build on cases of local Latino K-8 students learning in culturally, linguistically, and mathematically rich environments and reflect the current recommendations for mathematics teacher preparation. The Modules build on existing exemplary materials, but are adapted to reflect the Center's mission.
It is crucial that preservice teachers have extensive field experiences in classrooms with teachers who teach to the big ideas of mathematics while incorporating current knowledge and understandings about the mathematics teaching and learning of Latinos. "CEMELA schools" thus, are utilized extensively as K-8 field experience sites for the preservice programs at all four universities.
Bringing together all interested parties (i.e. parents, school personnel, and students) is fundamental to CEMELA's holistic vision. CEMELA's work with parents and families builds on our previous projects (Funds of Knowledge for Teaching, Bridge, and MAPPS (Math and Parent Partnerships in the Southwest)). A core group of parents (Parent Leaders) take mathematics courses for parents and in turn then facilitate workshops for other parents in the different communities. Parent Leaders inform and participate in several other Center activities by taking part in the study groups and lesson study component and contributing to the CEMELA Modules. We plan to have parents and preservice teachers work together in the facilitation of mathematics experiences in the after-school programs already in place in the partnering schools