Julie Basler is an elementary math coach in Hudson, Massachusetts. Schools there have been using EngageNY Math/Eureka Math with success at the elementary level since the 2014-15 school year. Julie is also participating in the Eureka Math Fellowship Program. We talked with her about both experiences, and excerpts of that conversation can be found here.
What drew you to the Eureka Math Fellowship Program?
I came late to the application process, but once I read the description, I thought, ‘I think I have something to contribute here.’ I’ve seen teachers and students flourish with the curriculum, and it seemed like a specialized way to get professional development for myself. It’s been a nice opportunity to have a richer look at the math, to meet fellow coaches from around the country, and learn from others.
Has the program lived up to your expectations?
It has been a great growth experience. I have gotten a lot out of the staff meetings with other fellows and with curriculum writers. At these meetings, we often look at different standards and analyze them, along with different practices for teaching math. It’s not something you discuss at a cocktail party. You’re not going to sit around and talk about operations and algebraic thinking. In one meeting, we recently had an hour-long conversation comparing two different math standards. I hate to sound like a nerd, but it was a really good conversation. And it’s important. It’s really added another dimension to my job and added to the richness of my understanding of the curriculum and the math. And whatever I learn, I bring back to my district so others can benefit.
How is your district doing now in the fourth year with the curriculum?
It’s going really well. Our kids are showing steady growth. For the kids, there is a vertical nature to a lot of the strategies they use. There is nothing in Eureka Math that’s just a one-year hit. Every strategy grows up strong right up through the grades. That consistency and coherence gives students a strong vertical anchor. The various models are really good for all students, and the mental math strategies are great, too, especially for pushing our higher-achieving students.
I knew we were doing well when a dad said to me recently, “I’m an engineer, and I really love how my kid is thinking about math and communicating about math.” That’s another component of this curriculum that is important. It has our kids talking about math to their peers and writing about math. They have to be able justify their thinking and reasoning and critique the work of others. It’s all embedded in Eureka Math. Our goal is to have kids graduate high school with college and career readiness. We need kids who can solve problems and work together to solve them. This curriculum is helping so much with that.
Would you recommend the fellowship program to other educators?
I’d definitely say go for it. You’re going to get a lot more out of it than I personally I can convey. It’s such a supportive learning environment and will help you in your career.