RONCEVERTE, W.Va. (WVDN) – Over the past year, Casey Whitlow, a mathematics teacher at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, has played an integral role in the growth of a statewide improvement network focused on mathematics teaching and learning as a Fellow in the “Mountaineer Mathematics Master Teachers” (M3T) project. The M3T project network began in 2020 through a six-year, $3 million grant to West Virginia University from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, supported by additional West Virginia Department of Education grants. The M3T project builds on previous efforts to support secondary mathematics teacher leadership and instructional improvement across West Virginia which started in Pocahontas County over a decade ago.
“M3T has taught me to be more intentional in my classroom,” said Whitlow, one of 43 M3T Fellows supported by the project representing 29 counties across West Virginia. “Fellows lift and hold each other to high standards, encouraging me to do the same for my students. I am thankful to work in Greenbrier County Schools, where innovation and teacher professional development receive such enthusiastic support.”
Superintendent of Greenbrier County Schools Jeff Bryant states, “Greenbrier County Schools is blessed to have a mathematics teacher of Casey’s content-based knowledge and pedagogy serving students, her colleagues and this important statewide mathematics initiative. Her commitment, dedication, expertise and leadership focused on the statewide improvement network for mathematics teaching and learning as a Fellow in the “Mountaineer Mathematics Master Teachers” (M3T) project is indicative of the exemplary mathematics experience she brings to her classroom and ALL students every day.”
As part of the project, M3T Fellows must continue to serve as a middle or high school mathematics teacher and work as a network to identify and solve specific problems in their classrooms and share that learning. Whitlow has also recruited and led an M3T “local improvement team” with Greenbrier County colleagues Erin Dotson, Ann Hylton and Melanie Sheppard to extend the reach of M3T’s improvement efforts.
The Greenbrier team has worked to address discourse in their mathematics classrooms for the past year. Guided by the M3T network’s approach to improvement, the team has tested the use of Notice Wonder Techniques which encourages students to be comfortable in a mathematics classroom.
“M3T not only improves the way that students approach solving math problems but also improves the way the teacher presents the problems,” said team member Sheppard. “Collaborating with M3T teachers has given me more confidence in my teaching and a different view of student learning.”
The team has shared their ideas with other mathematics educators across the state — both on M3T network calls and through a poster presentation at the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (WVCTM) annual conference held in March. Jason Massie, a Mountain View Middle School teacher, presented at WVCTM with other Fellows to address the lack of real-world connections and the math classroom. Next year, Massie will recruit and lead an M3T “local improvement team” with colleagues in Monroe County.
In addition to the local improvement team efforts, Whitlow and other M3T Fellows are working to develop deeper understandings of topics related to data and statistics as relatively new — though vital — content expectations in middle and high school mathematics classrooms. Fellows will share these and other takeaways from the year at the M3T Summer Institute in Morgantown in June.
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