Phase 1-The Master’s Degree Program
▪ Phase 1 of VMI is guided by four goals. Through coursework, classroom applications, mentoring by VMI staff, and leadership training, teachers in the VMI:
* Build a strong and deep knowledge and understanding of mathematics content
* Demonstrate effective mathematics instruction
* Conduct action research that informs instructional decisions at the classroom level and beyond
* Provide leadership that supports school-wide improvement of mathematics teaching and learning.
Graduates of the VMI provide evidence of the attainment of these goals through a final portfolio presentation, an oral examination, and completion and presentation of an action research project conducted in the third year of the program.
▪ No mathematics prerequisites. VMI participants enter with varied mathematics backgrounds. Teacher retention, therefore, is a high priority, and the VMI includes multiple means of supporting teachers, both in their own learning of mathematics and in the transfer of mathematics knowledge to the K-8 classroom. As evidence of the success of the support structures, over 95% of all teachers who have entered VMI since the year 2000 have completed the program.
▪ Field component and school implementation. The VMI employs master K-8 educators to serve as “VMI field mentors.” The field work engages the VMI teacher and the teacher’s VMI Mentor in helping the teacher apply her/his mathematics knowledge to enhance mathematics classroom practice. Field work takes place concurrently with each course. Also, teachers are required to attend occasional after school workshops, case discussions, and tutorial sessions. Additionally, at the end of the first year, teachers and their school principals or curriculum coordinators attend a three-day “VMI Leadership Institute,” at which the teacher and school administrator begin to develop their “VMI impact plan,” to enhance mathematics instruction and student learning in the school.
▪ Modeling effective pedagogy. All VMI courses serve as models for effective classroom pedagogy. In particular, VMI instruction engages the learner and maintains the learner’s attention, concentration, and enthusiasm for the entire class day. Modes of instruction during the day include cooperative group work, mathematics learning generated through problem solving activities, and appropriate blending of inquiry based learning and direct instruction.
▪ Leadership Roles Assumed by VMI Teachers. To date, Phase 1 of VMI has graduated over 250 teacher leaders. Nearly all of the graduates have assumed important mathematics leadership roles in their school or district, which typically might include the following: becoming the school's ‘expert’ on evaluation and assessment including NCLB and state assessments, leading the school's portfolio efforts, assisting colleagues in implementation of the school’s mathematics program, overseeing the administration of their school's (statewide) testing and interpreting the results, planning and delivering professional development for their school, and serving as representatives on action planning and curriculum committees.
At the statewide level, VMI graduates are also playing a significant leadership role. For example, VMI trained teachers make up an overwhelming majority of membership on any mathematics statewide committee, including research committees, the committee that established the state’s grade level expectations, and the committees that worked on developing assessments for No Child Left Behind. In addition, the VMI Executive Director, Lead VMI Field Mentor, and Lead Course Instructor are all graduates of the VMI, and a number of graduates of the VMI have been employed by the Vermont Mathematics Partnership grant, funded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education.
Vermont Mathematics Initiative
Building Capacity across Vermont for High-Quality Mathematics Instruction