Wood County Schools hosts training for West Virginia teachers

Photo Provided More than 300 educators from throughout the state gathered this week at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna for a West Virginia Department of Education mathematics training session.

VIENNA — Teachers from throughout West Virginia attended mathematics training this week at Grand Pointe Conference Center.

Wood County Schools hosted the West Virginia Department of Education training session, with about 300 educators representing the state’s 55 county-based school systems attending.

Dr. Cathy Williams of Stanford University presented various mathematical strategies during the Monday session, according to a press release from Wood County Schools Curriculum Department. Williams’ colleague Dr. Jo Boaler participated in question and answer sessions during the day via Skype.

One of the focuses of the training was the importance of trial and error to the learning process.

“We are stuck in a performance culture; we aren’t learning unless we are making mistakes,” Williams said.

“We have to embrace a growth mindset where we celebrate struggle and making mistakes. We need classroom environments where it is OK to make a mistake,” said Wood County Schools Curriculum Coordinator Jason Potts.

“We connate struggling with failing grades. We need students to struggle. When students are ‘struggling,’ they are learning and thinking and growing,” said Candace Lewis, a teacher coach at Wood County Schools. “If students struggle in reading, we think about putting supports in place to help a student, but with math if students struggle we just think the student isn’t good at math.”

In recent years, mathematics achievement has been a concern throughout the state. The Department of Education sponsored the event as part of its Math4LIfe series which includes national speakers throughout the state.

Wood County Schools has seen increases in mathematics student achievement each year during the past four years. Wood County continues to give opportunities through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) and Apple trainings provided to teachers throughout the summer.

The training also dealt with the idea of collaboration.

“Mathematicians talk with each other,” Williams said. “Greatness isn’t born, it is grown.”

“Nationally, we have a shift in instructional practices because our expectations in society are changing. Teachers are encouraged to use strategies that come from the best research possible,” said Wood County Schools teacher coach Greg Merritt. “The inclusion of Jo Boaler and hearing from a renowned expert is an awesome opportunity for teachers in this state to improve their practices.”