As early as kindergarten and first grade, American children are falling behind their international peers in their understanding of mathematics. By the time they reach high school, they are significantly behind. Students receiving poor math instruction are left with fewer choices and opportunities after high school. They find themselves shut out of further fields of study in which they might have excelled and career paths where they might have made a difference. In the internationally competitive, technological world in which we live, our kids are too often side-lined for lack of math proficiency. The cost to our society as a result of this under-developed talent is an immeasurable loss to us all.
The Mathematics Institute of Wisconsin, a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was created to address the need for math educators to develop deeper content knowledge and more effective teaching strategies. We are proud of the fact that some of Wisconsin’s best practicing teachers have been actively involved in our work since day one.
Our programs began in 2011 with what we then called the Wisconsin Statewide Mathematics Initiative (WSMI). WSMI was a collaborative effort between leaders from the Wisconsin Mathematics Council and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, representatives from higher education, and teachers from Wisconsin’s K-12 schools led by WSMI team members. Our work was guided and reviewed by an advisory team of nationally recognized mathematicians and math educators. Together, we created rigorous, in-depth professional development courses for Wisconsin’s elementary and high school teachers. By the end of 2016, we had served over 3,000 teachers through five-day, summer workshops held in elementary schools and high schools across the state. Year after year the demand for our workshops grew.
Today, encouraged by the enthusiastic feedback and recommendations we received from teachers and school administrators alike, our work has grown to provide schools, administrators, teachers, and principals various options for instructional support. We offer workshops throughout the year focused on a single domain or conceptual category, customized work throughout the state on alignment with district or school goals and priorities, and coaching opportunities, based on a Cognitive Coaching model.