Amanda Martinez knew that she and her colleagues had to do things differently. For the math team at Taos Middle School in Taos, New Mexico, a one-size-fits-all approach wasn’t working for students, most of whom enter below grade level. Meeting their diverse learning needs would be crucial for developing lifelong academic and social skills.
Last school year, the New Mexico Public Education Department developed innovation grants to support schools as they shifted to Teach to One: Math‘s student-centered learning models. After hearing about opportunity from Principal Alfred Cordova, Martinez did some research and was intrigued at how Teach to One was able to differentiate instruction and lesson content for every student.
“Our kids come in at such different levels, it was really important for us to find a program that would meet students where they are,” Martinez said. “Additionally, we really liked the way TTO uses different learning styles (modalities) to teach students.”
From the start, the teachers worked as a well-oiled team. They brought a range of pedagogical styles to the math center and found ways to make the program their own. They’ve also stepped up to support one another in the short time since Taos launched Teach to One.
Teacher-led Live Investigations are especially critical as students engage with new concepts, but when unforeseen circumstances arise, such as teacher absences, coordinated planning is needed to maximize these instructional sessions. Teach to One helps with logistics by creating customized daily student schedules that provide teachers with tailored lesson plans. When the Taos team was missing a teacher for a few days early in the year, Martinez was able to step in and take over with little disruption.
This showed how solutions-oriented the Taos team has been. They understand that small setbacks can have a big impact for students, and work together tirelessly to figure out a way forward.
Teachers are finding creative ways to proactively engage the entire school in personalized learning. Eighth graders at Taos can be selected as Student Aids who help teachers and tutor younger students. They have been perfect fits to work with younger students on Teach to One’s more independent and peer-to-peer modalities. This collaborative effort fosters a love of learning, mentorship, and also new ways of engaging math.
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a couple of months since Teach to One launched at Taos. The teachers have already excelled in ways of seasoned veterans of Teach to One’s collaborative teaching approach. Although the road ahead will likely be filled with more challenges, we are confident in their ability to turn them into triumphs as a team.
Rosa Pynes is Site Operations Manager supporting New Classrooms’ school partners in New Mexico.