Dr. Monica Neagoy returned to campus February 27 and worked with students, teachers, administrators and parents through Saturday, March 17. She stepped into two classrooms to help solve two immediate needs and worked with a group of 11th grade IB students and a group of grade 10 students. Everyone involved recognized the value that Dr. Monica added to those classrooms and we are grateful for the timing of her visit. There were other students with whom she worked, ranging from intermittently to regularly, from grades 4th through 12th.
When not with students, Monica met with groups of teachers, individual teachers, parents and observed classrooms. From an instructional perspective, she is helping us develop and strengthen our “pedagogical content knowledge” – that is, how to teach mathematics. This is different than knowing mathematics or even understanding mathematics, which are certainly also important. Think about a moment when a student, or your son or daughter asked you how to solve a mathematical problem and perhaps you could only explain the process or steps needed to solve the problem. This is a common example of not knowing how to teach the concept but rather relying on the procedure, rules, and formulas. Monica is challenging us to think about to what extent we are teaching understandings and concepts rather than first teaching procedures, rules and formulas. There is an observable difference in the classroom that is focused on concepts rather than rules, and that is what Monica is helping us identify and achieve.
Parents also participated in Math Workshops with Monica a couple of the mornings for over two hours. These hands-on explorations were rich opportunities to learn more about how you can support your child’s mathematic literacy and better understand the ways of thinking and doing math your child/ren are experiencing in class.
There is something quite important to understand about the “BFIS Math Program” and that is that the teaching approach, strategies and assessments are not isolated problems found only at BFIS. I know, I know, that is not entirely comforting, but it is a matter of reality supported by educational research conducted around the world. To address this concern, passionate educators dedicate their lives to making meaningful change within the schools they work. We are fortunate to have Dr. Monica help BFIS move its math instruction into the 21st century, preparing our students for a different world than the one we entered upon completion of high school, and making best use of all the educational research we know today.
Change takes time and every week we work with Dr. Monica, we move a little closer to our ideal math classroom and our ideal Math Program. We are thankful for the continued support of our Board and annual giving donors who have made it possible for visiting scholars such as Dr. Monica Neagoy to return to BFIS for several weeks out of the year, over more than one year. We are especially grateful for the incredible opportunity to work with Dr. Monica Neagoy for 20 weeks next year.