With many graduates commencing their careers in remote educational sites, there is an even more urgent need to support their induction into the profession. Many schools have a range of support mechanisms to help with the transition into remote teaching. While systems may offer an induction program, or schools may also do these on site when the incoming teachers arrive, there is a need for on-going support and mentoring. To enable this to occur, there is a need for a person whose role is to enact the vision and policies of the school and to support the teachers to do this in their classrooms. There are numerous names that can be applied to such a role – middle leader, numeracy coach, instructional leader, numeracy leader – but regardless of the name, the role is important to scaffold teachers’ learning so that they are able to consolidate the vision of the school and to provide support for teachers to build strong mathematical classrooms.
The Numeracy Leader has a multifaceted role – s/he works one-on-one with teachers in the classroom in a variety of ways. This can range from modelling teaching which might reflect the whole school model that has been adopted; helping teachers design and implement appropriate testing/assessment of students; interpretation of student data and how to develop appropriate teaching strategies to scaffold and extend learning; supporting teachers to develop plans for teaching; team teaching with the teacher; taking small groups within the classroom setting; and/or providing feedback on teachers’ teaching.
The numeracy leader may also work across the school through leading professional development of all teachers. This can occur at targeted after school meetings, or if the school elects to have whole day teacher release for professional learning the numeracy leader may assume part or whole responsibility for leader these activities. The numeracy leader assumes responsibility for building the learning of teachers to ensure that they are up to date with research into the teaching of mathematics. This can be through workshops or sharing academic/professional reading with the staff. One of the key findings of the Remote Numeracy Project has been the value for staff to be involved in professional learning communities which are often the co-responsibility of the leadership team and the numeracy leader.
The numeracy leader serves an important role in being a conduit between the leadership team and the classroom teachers. The Numeracy Leader works in conjunction with the leadership team to understand the vision, direction and policies of the school, and then to translate this into action in the classroom via the teachers’ practice. Working side-by-side with the teachers, the Numeracy Leader is also able to provide feedback to the leadership team about what is working and where there are challenges within the classroom and wider school. This feedback loop allows both leaders and practitioners to work collaboratively to bring about the successes in numeracy at the school level.
The successful Numeracy Leaders often have a range of valuable attributes – they have a solid background in the classroom so as to have credibility with the teachers but also a wide repertoire of skills to share with the teachers. The Numeracy Leader has good communication skills as s/he works closely with teachers often provide feedback and information that may challenge teachers. To support the growth of the Numeracy Leader, s/he needs to be a learner and engage with professional learning communities and activities outside the school so as to bring new perspectives and ideas into the mathematics/numeracy programs. Being reflective and reflexive is a key attribute of the role as the Numeracy Leader needs to respond to information and feedback provided by teachers and leaders and then translate this into action.