Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Math Intervention Class?

A blog that I love to follow is Cult of Pedagogy. If you have never visited it, I suggest you check it out soon! So much great stuff about classroom culture, teaching, and, well, pedagogy! :)

Recently, I saw on Twitter that Jennifer (@cultofpedagogy) was asking for feedback from math teachers about a question from a parent. Interested to see what the question was, I clicked over to find this question posed: A student was recommended for a math "reinforcement" class. The student wasn't happy to be missing an elective with friends. The parent wanted to know what to do.

There are several things to consider. I wrote a comment on the blog and included it below for you to read. I would love to hear how other math teachers would answer this tricky question!

My comment:
First, how great that the parent is considering their child’s feeling in the decision. Many times I see adults making decisions for kids and ignoring their feelings in that process.
As for the math “reinforcement class,” I’m guessing it is an intervention class. I think these can be done well, but if not it’s because of one or more of these reasons:
-no best practice in math education is being used, instead it is more procedure/drill & kill
-kids are just put on a computer to “practice,” on a program such as IXL Math (boring!)
-the teacher is not trained as a math teacher (that teacher might not even LIKE math or want to be teaching the class)
-there is no defined standard for being in the class besides a “bad grade in math,” which mean there could be students in the class with poor behavior or homework completion, but no real need for a math intervention (not the student in your question, but would other students in the class be a behavior problem taking time away from this student getting help?)
-there is no defined criteria for a student to exit the intervention (are they stuck in the class for the rest of the year?)
If I were talking with this parent, I would encourage them to find out how students are selected, what the program is that they will be using, and how students exit the intervention. Finding out the answers to these questions and determining if it seems like a high quality, well managed intervention will help make an informed decision. However, if one of the problems I listed above seem to be the case in this class, I would opt out.

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