In 2018, mathematics professor Darryl Yong ’96, computer science professors Colleen Lewis and Zachary Dodds and Karen Gallagher (USC) launched their National Science Foundation funded project, “Math for America Los Angeles: Elevating Mathematics and Computer Science Instruction through Teacher Leadership.”
A collaborative effort between USC, Harvey Mudd College, school districts in the greater Los Angeles area and Math for America Los Angeles, the project includes funding for 34 master teaching fellows to create an improvement plan for their respective schools’ mathematics and/or computer science instructional needs.
The fellows participate in summer computer science training, academic team teaching and monthly professional development meetings, one of which was held on campus Oct. 5.
“Currently we have 23 mathematics and computer science teachers who are being supported on this grant,” says Yong. Now in its second year, the project supports two cohorts of teachers with a third cohort expected in 2020. Each cohort stays in the program for five years.
Dodds and Yong opened Saturday’s meeting with an activity for all the participants. “For me, the highlight is in seeing how much teachers seem to be getting out of the work that they’re doing with each other and with us,” says Yong.
In the afternoon, Lewis worked with small groups of teachers in different areas of focus (mathematics, computer science, etc.). She also led the teachers in playing “Microaggressions: The Game,” a card game she developed to help people recognize and respond to microaggressions or bias.
“The feedback I got from the teachers about the game was very positive,” Lewis says. “They reported that it got them to talk about difficult topics and share their ideas and experiences.”
“No matter how tired I am by the end of the week,” says Yong, “I find that spending my Saturdays with these teachers is energizing and uplifting. I learn a lot of things from these teachers about my own teaching. We challenge each other to be better teachers.”