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Math Coaches + Teachers = Student Success
Math Coaches + Teachers = Student Success
Posted on 06/15/2020
A collage showing some of the teachers and math coaches who collaborated in Vertical Transition Meetings.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

BCS math coaches make sure students don’t miss a beat as they advance from elementary school to middle grades and from middle grades to high school.

“We don’t just send students off to their next school,” said BCS K-12 Mathematics Specialist Stefanie Buckner. “We set them up for success at all Buncombe County Schools. We capitalize on previous successes.”

As the 2019-2020 school year ended amid the COVID-19 crisis, math coaches from every school met virtually with those who will help students learn next year at a different school (in grades 4-5, 6-7, and 8-9). Through “Vertical Transition” meetings, these math coaches met online with principals, teachers, and other instructional coaches to help prime schools for a successful 2020-2021 school year. They talked about what mathematics the kids learned face to face this year and what they learned virtually. They highlighted what technology tools, structures, and routines were helpful, which tools that the kids liked and were drawn to, and the ones that were distracting. Teachers left the meetings knowing a lot about their future students.

Math coaches are certified teachers who work with classroom teachers to ensure consistent math learning opportunities within grade levels and across grade levels, Ms. Buckner explained.

“They aim to make sure every student has similar learning opportunities, and they work specifically with math teachers to make sure we are connecting the learning across and within the grade levels,” she said. “With a less jarring transition and consistency and rigor, students will have more success.”

BCS teachers showed their adaptability, she added. Their quick embrace of virtual meeting technology actually made it easier to involve more teachers in the meetings without the need for travel.

“Our fourth-fifth grade Vertical Transition meeting was beneficial to start the conversation about how we can best meet the needs of the incoming students, particularly since we draw from five different elementary schools,” said Ms. Leslie Anderson, fifth-grade teacher at Joe P. Eblen Intermediate School and 2020 Erwin District Teacher of the Year. “We know the curriculum that was introduced this past school year but not mastered and can use that to guide our math curriculum planning this summer.”

A.C. Reynolds Middle School sixth-grade math teacher Kate Whittier said the meetings helped her parse which standards her future students learned before and after the transition to BCS Virtual Days, as well as which technology platforms students have learned to use.

“This helps us tremendously to prepare for next year and is a practice I foresee continuing even after virtual school is over,” she said.

Ms. Sarah Camby, Haw Creek Elementary School fifth-grade teacher and 2019 Reynolds District Teacher of the Year, agreed.

“It was nice to be able to explain what standards each elementary school was able to cover during remote learning,” she said. “We also talked about the different platforms (Google Classroom/SeeSaw, etc.) that we used to help make the transition for our fifth-graders smooth as they go to sixth grade.”

Black Mountain Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Caroline Clark and Clyde A. Erwin Middle School seventh-grade teacher Elizabeth Harwell both said they appreciated the opportunity to hear from the future teachers of her current students.

“Not only were the vertical transition meetings informative in planning for next school year; these conversations are also laying a foundation for stronger relationships between teachers and schools that will benefit students for many years to come,” Ms. Harwell said.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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