The Transition Maths 1 (TM1) course is the major teacher intervention of the WMCS project. It focuses on the transition from Grade 9 to Grade 10 mathematics, with the target that more learners should take mathematics in Grade 10 and succeed at it. This means more learners must succeed at Grade 9 mathematics, and so it is vital that Grades 8 to 10 teachers be well-prepared to teach mathematics.
Opportunity to learn mathematics in school depends on skilful teaching, crucially the mathematical discourse in instruction (MDI) that evolves in a lesson, and over time across lessons. Of course, learners’ access to a set of resources – the means through which they can participate in mathematical discourse (i.e. learn) – goes beyond teaching. In WMCS schools, the quality of instruction is key, and mediated by the teacher.
The Senior Phase Subject Advisors of Mathematics (SP-SAM) course was a collaborative initiative in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE). The goals of the course were to increase the capacity of subject advisors to deliver quality mathematics professional development, focusing on the specific challenges of Senior Phase Mathematics; to increase subject advisors’ skills in using computer software for teaching and learning mathematics; and to develop a vibrant and sustainable professional learning community between members of WMCS and the subject advisors.
Between 2013 and 2016 (across the end of Phase 1 and the beginning of Phase 2) we explored a model of Lesson Study (LS) at school but after school hours in small collaborating groups of teachers with teachers from three clusters of the schools in Phase 1. In our LS work with teachers we use the MTF as a structuring device to guide lesson planning and reflection illustrated in Figure 1. The MTF is thus an observation/reflection tool on the ‘quality’ of mathematics offered in their teaching in LS.
The Transition Maths 2 (TM2) course was designed to address the transition from school mathematics to university mathematics, with particular focus on helping teachers to increase the numbers of learners obtaining A, B, and C-symbols in Mathematics. It was targeted at teachers with previous experience of teaching FET Mathematics who sought to support and challenge their learners in aiming for higher marks. The course was offered twice in phase 1, with 27 teachers across 10 schools completing the course.
The Learning Mentoring Project (LMP) was a pilot project, carried out in 3 project schools in 2011 and 2012. The goal was to support learners to improve their mathematics through an innovative mentorship model involving undergraduate students who served as role models for the learners. In 2 of the 3 schools, most learners improved their mathematics results, moving from level 3 to level 4 in one year. These results indicate that a project like the LMP can enhance performance in schools where teaching is satisfactory but cannot compensate for poor teaching.