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Center for Mathematics and Science Education

The University of Mississippi

Mathematics Mentoring Academy for Teachers of Exceptional Students
(MathMATES) Project

Deadline for Nominations: March 31, 2021

This project is made available through funding from the NASA Mississippi Space Grant Consortium (MSSGC). For more information about MSSGC, please visit their website at http://msspacegrant.org/

Frequently Asked Questions

The mission of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at The University of Mississippi is to improve the mathematics and science education of all students in Mississippi schools. The Mathematics Mentoring Academy for Teachers of Exceptional Students (MathMATES), which is funded through the Mississippi Space Grant Consortium, provides an opportunity for 4th- and 5th-grade co-teaching teams to come together for a full year of professional development centered on mathematics instruction of students with learning disabilities, or exceptional learners. MathMATES begins with a one-week content-focused Summer Institute and continues with student- and standards-focused collaborative professional learning throughout the 2021-2022 school year.

The goal of MathMATES is to provide mathematics teachers and special education teachers an opportunity to gain a common understanding of grade-specific mathematics content knowledge and effective pedagogy.  Teacher teams will also explore strategies for effective collaboration based on their individual expertise focused on improving the mathematics instruction of exceptional students in their school.

Each selected participant will be asked to pay a $50 non-refundable seat deposit. The project will provide all materials, parking, and CEUs for the summer institute and academic year follow-up sessions. Some travel assistance will be provided, however, this may not cover all costs incurred. If needed, overnight accommodations for the summer institute will be provided.  

An administrator can nominate one 4th- or 5th-grade general education teacher and one special education teacher who provides support to the special education students included in the general educator’s classroom. These two teachers comprise one participant team. For example, you may nominate the 5th-grade math teacher and the special education teacher who is assigned to all 5th- and 6th-grade inclusion students. The nominated general education teacher may be responsible for teaching multiple subjects as long as one of them is math. A teacher may not serve on multiple teams, and it is recommended that you nominate only one teacher team per school campus.

There are no limitations to years of teaching experience, the number of years teams have worked together, or how well teachers currently work together. We are looking to include teams with a wide variety of teaching experiences, working styles, and working relationships in this project.

Honest and candid answers to narrative questions are most helpful in the selection process. We are looking to include both new teams and seasoned teams, teams who work well together and teams who are developing their relationship, teams that have ample planning and co-instruction time, and teams who struggle to find just a few moments a week to touch base. Nominators and applicants must share as much detail as appropriate to give the selection committee an accurate picture of the teachers’ current working relationship, as well as their eagerness to participate in the project.

Fifteen teams will be selected based on the information provided on the nomination form and teacher applications. One of the key aspects of professional development is the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with other teachers. To create the most meaningful learning experience, we aim to bring together diverse teams of enthusiastic teachers. Selected teachers must be eager to participate in the project, be passionate about what they do, and have a desire to learn from one another. This project will take place over the course of the 2021-2022 school year, so selected teachers must commit to participating in all activities and have the committed support of their administration.

Administrators can provide ongoing support to teachers by encouraging them to participate in project activities, talking to them about what they are learning, urging them to try new ideas in the classroom, and inspiring them to be leaders among their peers.

 Logistically, teachers need to be available to attend all project activities.  During the school year, there will be two required Friday follow-up sessions at the University of Mississippi, one in September and another in February. Arrangements will need to be made to allow participants to be away from their classrooms for these days. Teachers will be expected to spend some time planning together and may require administrative support to make planning time possible. Teachers will also participate in brief monthly virtual check-ins with project staff. These can be scheduled at times convenient for participants, but the administration may be called upon to help make meeting times available.

Research shows that general education teachers and special education teachers are working hard to collaborate to meet the needs of exceptional learners (Scruggs et al., 2007). However, teacher teams often indicate that they struggle to find time to plan together or have meaningful conversations about their shared students (Austin, 2001; Kohler-Evans, 2006; Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007). We recognize that many teachers, especially special education teachers, are being pulled in multiple directions and can be overwhelmed with day to day professional duties. Frequently, special education teachers must provide support to many students in many different content areas, and often across multiple grades. General education teachers are at times isolated in their subject area and in their classrooms. Additionally, co-teaching research studies indicate that general education teachers may struggle to find ways to support exceptional students in the absence of a special education teacher, and special education teachers may struggle with the specific mathematics content knowledge needed to support their exceptional students (Maccini & Gagnon, 2002; Magiera & Zigmond, 2005; Sheppard & Wieman, 2020).  MathMATES allows teachers to bring their individual expertise together to spend time thinking about, studying, and investigating what it takes to meet the mathematical learning needs of their exceptional students.

Teacher teams must be nominated by an administrator. This could be an instructional coach, principal, or district-level administrator. Nominated teachers will receive an email inviting them to complete the teacher application.  

If you have been nominated and have trouble accessing the application form, contact us at cmsepd@go.olemiss.edu or (662) 915-6621 and someone from our staff will assist you.