Lori St. Germain, a 5th-grade teacher at Dawson Elementary School in Holden, Mass., is one of our Eureka Math PD Fellows. Lori is in her third year using Eureka Math with her students. We talked with her about the changes she’s seen in her students since her school started using the curriculum and how the Fellows program is helping her grow as a professional.
How would you describe your experience with the Fellows program so far?
I’ve learned so much about Eureka Math, and going out and meeting other fellows and the teacher-writers has been so helpful. In addition, my principal has been very good about helping me share what I know in my school. I’ve gone into other grades and classrooms and given demonstration lessons, and my team, in particular, is now very up to speed on Eureka.
You are in your third year implementing the curriculum. What kind of progress are you seeing?
One of the most interesting things we’ve seen is strong growth among our inclusion-support (special education) students. We used to have to have a pullout program for them for math, but last year we moved to push-in services. The students are in a general education classroom with a special education teacher co-teaching the class. These students have made gains on our state assessments last year, and we look forward to the success of this new model this year with another group of students. I think it’s both this new co-teaching model and the Eureka curriculum, which gives them multiple strategies for solving problems. The various pictorial models in Eureka are helpful to different types of learners. It helps them better understand the math, solve problems, and ultimately get to abstract problem-solving. They’re really learning to persevere and have gained confidence.
What have you focused on in your work as a Fellow?
I’ve been working with other Fellows on refining our practice, so we can do a lesson a day. We’ve been working on lesson customization techniques. We want to retain the rigor of each lesson and get through the required content in a single day. I needed more training to get better at this, and the fellowship program has been helpful. I was struggling with this before.
How has this program helped you grow professionally?
We spend a lot of time talking to other teachers -- either other fellows, teacher writers, or teachers around the country who we provide with Eureka Math PD. Talking to a group of teachers is so different from teaching a group of students. I needed to learn to speak more confidently in front of a group of adults as opposed to kids. I have been teaching for 11 years. I like working with kids, but I can see maybe in a few years, going out and working with other teachers in a training capacity. In the meantime, this allows me the best of both worlds.
What would you say to someone considering this fellowship program?
I would say that if they’re interested in learning more deeply about the program and how it works and sharing that knowledge with other teachers to develop better practice, this is for you. I find meeting other teachers and hearing about their challenges and successes to be so rewarding and helpful. I also think it really works to have Fellows sharing this information with their peer teachers back at their schools. Teachers are more willing to try something new if you tell them you’ve tried it in your classroom and it worked.