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Experience and research suggest that effective professional development models have some common characteristics. To be effective, professional development:

  • Begins prior to curriculum implementation and continues for at least the first three years of implementation.
  • Is centered on the CMP curriculum.
  • Develops teachers' knowledge of mathematics and pedagogy.
  • Models and reflects good mathematical pedagogy.
  • Addresses teacher concerns about change.
  • Involves teachers in reflecting and planning for improvement.
  • Creates strong leadership.
  • Includes a plan for training new teachers as they join the district.
  • Reflects strong support from administration and parents.
  • Establishes a collaborative "community of learners" among teachers.

Change in itself can be problematic and for some teachers the changes associated with using CMP for the first time can be significant. The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) (Hall & Hard, 1987; Hard et al. 1987; Loucks-Horsley, 1989; Freil and Gann, 1993) offers help in addressing these concerns. The stages of concern can be described as the following:

  • Self-Concerns: What is this new change, and how will it affect me?
  • Task-Oriented Concerns: How do I enact this change? What do I need to do to make this change happen with my students?
  • Impact-Oriented Concerns: How are my students learning? Are they learning more, and are they learning better? How do I work with others who are also enacting these new ideas?

Progressing through these stages of concern while implementing Connected Mathematics takes time-three years is a good target.

A variety of needs will surface throughout the three years of professional development and implementation. Early in the professional development component, time must be provided to address teachers' concerns about enacting a standards-based curriculum. In the beginning, these concerns may tend to focus on management, grading issues, special needs students, tracking, skills, transitions to high school, and so on. While these issues are important and should be addressed, they can divert attention away from content and instruction. We suggest that they be addressed gradually during the first phase of professional development. Give teachers time to voice their concerns early in the process and assure them that these concerns will be addressed. Many of these concerns become less urgent as the teachers engage in studying the mathematics and sharing their knowledge with colleagues. These experiences will help teachers integrate previous teaching practice with new expectations.

Good professional development to support CMP weaves mathematics, pedagogy, and assessment together. As teachers continue to engage in professional development activities, their concerns shift to student learning and the relationship between teaching and learning. These concerns merit continued attention; teachers need the opportunity to probe deeper into the mathematics, their practice, and student learning.

To make significant changes, professional development must address teachers' stages of concern while providing opportunities for teachers to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding and broader view of mathematics (mathematical knowledge)
  • Strengthen their pedagogical knowledge (teaching and learning)
  • Explore assessment aligned with inquiry-based instructional strategies (assessment)
  • Foster and sustain collaboration for continued growth

Initially, these professional activities are most effective when facilitated by an outside teacher leader; however, the ultimate goal is to foster and sustain a collaborative teacher community in which these activities continue with local teacher leadership. In order for these activities to continue, teachers will need adequate time to collaborate with their colleagues.

Professional development must be based on sound criteria and principles that have evolved from research and been verified in practice. The research discussed above as well as other research described by Loucks-Horsley et al. (1996), our own extensive experiences, and the Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (NCTM, 1991) serve as important references for our professional development design. Three components-mathematics, teaching and learning, and assessment-are core areas of the professional development model and each comes to the foreground at critical times during the professional development.