Passion powers the hard work, determination, and creativity that make great accomplishments possible. It correlates to a person’s desire and capacity to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve superlative outcomes—qualities that the teachers of SMS have in spades.

For the 2019 winter semester, SMS Director of Curriculum, Darlene DeMerchant, was asked to develop and teach a post-graduate course on mathematics at the University of Victoria. The course, entitled Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Mathematics, explores the role of teachers in creating a classroom environment where students feel safe to “take risks, make mistakes, rise to a challenge, ask questions, connect ideas, use intuition, reason, prove, work collaboratively and independently” (Zager, 2017).

“It was an honour to be invited to teach this course and I see it as an outstanding professional learning opportunity,” said Darlene. “I developed the course on my own, and I created it in a way that I would teach our own teachers here at SMS. The course explores the teaching of mathematics to young learners, investigating the big Ideas, content, curricular competencies and core competencies as identified in BC’s Redesigned Curriculum.”

While Darlene is away for Spring Break, she asked Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Kaukinen and Learning Support Teacher Angela Foulkes to take the helm and give up some of their own holidays to pursue this opportunity.

“I absolutely love math, it’s my passion and this is one of the best professional development opportunities I’ve ever been a part of. Even with all the courses I have done in the past, the best way to become an expert in something is to teach it, and be able to explain the why behind it,” said Rebecca. “Being able to influence future educators about a subject that sometimes comes with a lot of anxiety, is awesome,” she continued.

During the first week, the pair will cover response to intervention and differentiation strategies for how to meet the needs of all types of learners in the classroom, as well as math workshop—which are all ways in which we model and are working on implementing into our curriculum at SMS.

Over the course of the second week, they will be looking at strategies for engaging parent’s in the current math philosophy as well as how to improve communication to parents about the ‘why’.

“We are constantly thinking about how we can improve and better our own practices,” said Angela. “How math is taught now is different than how we were taught, it’s a hands-on approach and not a one size fits all,” she said.

Darlene, who hopes to be invited back to teach this course again next year, is confident that the teachers here at SMS are very strong when it comes to this subject matter, and that we are truly leading the way with our model.

“I went to Rebecca and Angela because I know that they have passion and expertise in these particular topics and that this would be a fantastic professional learning and growth opportunity for them personally and professionally.”