Academic Training Elevates Teaching to Higher Plane

FRONT CENTER: Jeanette Montano (front, fourth from left) Imperial County Office Of Education curriculum coordinator, and Rafaela Santa Cruz (front, third from left), of San Diego State University, taught a class of Valley teachers in the latest math strategies during ICOE’s Precision and Rigor in Mathematics Education summer institute Wednesday at Imperial Valley College. WILLIAM ROLLER PHOTO

Teaching’s best practices took another leap forward during Imperial County Office of Education’s weeklong training session for elementary and secondary teachers this week at Imperial Valley College.

This was year two in the launch of Precision and Rigor in Mathematics Education, which is part of a three-year grant under California Math, Science Partnership, which is administered by the California Department of Education, noted Todd Evangelist, ICOE director of development and community relations.

“We’re so proud of our teachers, not just transforming themselves but their students who are improving in math efficiency,” said Janet Estrada, PRIME coordinator for ICOE.

Alan Phillips, ICOE coordinator of education technology steered teachers through a program of how to incorporate the latest tech tools into the classroom. Teachers in Phillips’ seminar learned to use the YouTube video editor. These teachers will be required to record video of themselves teaching a classroom lesson then screened for others doing the same so teachers can offer each other tips on how to improve.

Phillips noted technology makes lessons more stimulating.

“Kids just love using tech in the classroom,” he said. “Tech really engages in a profound way, it grabs their attention and reinforces concepts they’re learning.”

In the pedagogy workshop, Jeanette Montano, ICOE curriculum coordinator provided teachers with strategies to encourage students to speak up more in class, engage in greater collaboration and to do analytical thinking. They also stressed the need for students to articulate how they arrive at their solutions, while employing math strategies such as Number Talks or Mathematically Speaking.

“This allows teachers to get more creative, you teach the concept instead of rote memorization,” said Montano. “This moves more towards conceptual understanding of math by being able to see the big picture; if you’re dividing fractions by fractions you realize beforehand you get a very small number from your computation.”

This was different from typical professional development since it focused on math, noted Mariela De La Fuente, an eighth-grade teacher at Enrique Camarena Junior High School in Calexico.

“I feel focused and ready to implement what we learned in our classes,” said De La Fuente. “All the strategies are student-friendly and easy to apply in the classroom.”

Her colleague Juan Rodriguez, who participated last year, concurred because the new strategies take teaching up to another level.

“We had an excellent presentation on Monday with Julie Adams (founder of Adams Educational Consulting, an international teacher training),” said Rodriguez. “She told us we have to create a comfortable environment to promote learning and reduce anxiety. Those arriving in class self-confident because of a loving environment are more prone to learn.”

Denise Cabanilla, ICOE director of higher education led teachers through the college and career readiness. Math competency is critical to succeeding in college and the job she stressed.

“We want to make the connection of math in the classroom and how it lives everywhere in everyday life,” said Cabanilla. “You only fail if you stop trying. Brain research has shown if you make a mistake the brain builds new pathways. So the best time to learn is following a failure and to understand the need to maintain your grit.”

Staff Writer William Roller can be reached at or 760-337-3452.

Added on Thursday, August 4, 2016 - 12:04