In the fall of 2009, a team of Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) teachers, administrators and support staff offered the MAPPS Math for Parents Mini-Course, Data for Parents, to parents of Hohokam Middle School and its elementary feeder schools — Johnson, Lawrence, Maldonado, and Vessey. This was the third MAPPS Mini-Course to be offered at Hohokam. In 2007-8, parents participated in Fractions for Parents. In 2008-9, they participated in Geometry for Parents. (See reports on these courses in the story section of this Website and in previous blogs.)
Like the other courses, Data for Parents consisted of eight two-hour sessions spread out over two and a half months roughly once a week. The facilitators for the Mini-Course were teachers from the participating schools.
Training for the facilitators took place in three, 6-hour Saturday sessions, one before the course began, others in weeks when the mini-course was in progress. MAPPS Center staff led facilitators through the entire course, covering not only the mathematical ideas but also the pedagogical strategies for engaging parent-participants during each course session.
After the mini-course was completed, district staff asked the facilitators about their experiences. Some of their responses follow.
What they felt was most effective about Data for Parents:
Working with the parents and helping them to better understand what it is their child is learning in math.
Parents really started to understand the intensity of what their children are learning in the classroom.
Parents walked out feeling more confident in their ability to help their children.
Up-beat moments they experienced:
Ah-ha! moments from the parents.
One parent said that she˜fell in love with math” because of MAPPS.
Watching parents working together and communicating with one another.
Parent participation and their willingness to learn.
Seeing parents getting more involved and interested in their child’s education.
The formation of relationships between parents and between parents and teachers.
The creation of a community of learners that included parents and teachers.
Parents saw teachers as life-long learners and, as a result, felt more confident as learners themselves.
The engagement and involvement of fellow teacher-facilitators.
The dedication of everyone — parents and staff.
Working collaboratively with other teachers, not just from my own school but from other schools as well.
About the effectiveness of the training:
“I liked the opportunity to have a mock teaching session. It helped us prepare for what might happen.”
“It was very helpful to practice giving the lessons to each other on the Saturday trainings before instructing the parents. It allowed time to work out the “bugs” and identify possible difficulties/confusions.”
“I gained a deeper understanding of some of the math concepts that I don’t teach at my grade level.”
“I refresh my own memory and skills on certain topics I have not done in a long time or taught before.”
– David Gay