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Wayne State gets grant to prepare math teachers for Detroit classrooms

Nov 11, 2015

Credit Ross Belmont / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University is getting a $1.4 million grant to prepare elementary and middle school math teachers to teach in Detroit.

The grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will help WSU recruit and train 56 new math teachers to teach in Detroit classrooms.

It's part of TeachDETROIT, a partnership between Wayne State, Detroit Public Schools, Henry Ford College and Wayne Westland Community Schools.

The new program will train math teachers specifically to work in Detroit schools, with coursework that includes the history of the city's school system and neighborhoods.

Participants will also learn about the city's African American communities and academic instruction methods that are "culturally responsive."

"It's not generic good instruction. It's instruction that we know from experience and research to be effective for children of color living in poverty," said Jennifer Lewis, assistant professor of math education at WSU. 

Lewis said courses will take place inside the same Detroit schools where the program's participants will eventually teach.

"This program will prepare them to teach math in a particular way, but beyond learning from the book and the instructor, they'll get to go into classrooms and try out ideas with children," she said.

That includes learning and applying math instruction methodologies that likely weren't in practice when many of the program's participants were growing up.

"You can't only know formulas that you've memorized. You also have to know when they make sense, what they're used for, how they help you make sense of the world you see," Lewis said. "That requires more extensive preparation, practice with students and intervention from instructors."

Once they finish the program, new teachers will receive mentorship from TeachDETROIT during the first two years of their career.