Math Teacher Leader Network Participates In Two Day Professional Development Opportunity

Members of the Math Teacher Leader Network. Courtesy/LAPS

LAPS News:

Teachers from Blanco Elementary School in Bloomfield and El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe joined math teachers at Mountain Elementary School in Los Alamos as part of the Math Teacher Leader Network, a collaboration between Los Alamos National Laboratory and schools. The two day professional development opportunity focused on Number Talks.

“Our guests were blown away by our clean and vibrant school,” said Dr. Brian Grass, principal at Mountain Elementary. “They gushed about the welcoming staff and respectful and polite students.”

The Math Teacher Leader Network (MTLN) is an association of math teacher leaders and their principals and the Laboratory’s Math and Science Academy designed to facilitate and strengthen high quality mathematics teaching and learning in elementary and middle schools in northern New Mexico. Mountain has been involved with the Math Teacher Leader Network for the past eight years. 

As Dr. Grass explained, “The school identifies math teacher leaders or MTLs, and works with the MTLN leaders: Randy Merker and Zach Leonard, who is also a Mountain parent. These two individuals help guide the MTLs through the creation of a Problem of Practice (POP) based on instructional mathematics data, and then help design professional learning activities, such as instructional rounds, which we just recently finished. One of the core tenets of the MTLN is cross collaboration across different student populations, to better serve the needs of everyone in math.” 

Mountain has eight teachers identified as MTLs:

  • Kindergarten teacher Kris Martinez;
  • First grade teachers Stephanie Luscher and Branden Willman;
  • Second grad teacher Alyssa Van Anne;
  • Third grade teacher Kandice Favorite
  • Fourth grade teacher Travis Gibson;
  • Fifth grade teacher Beth Ziomek; and
  • Sixth grade teacher Brett Hawkins.

“I’ve been involved with the Math Teacher Leader Network for about six years,” Favorite said. “The collaboration with teachers from other schools and districts has given me some great resources and ideas to use with my students. The work I’ve done with this group has truly shaped who I am as a math teacher.”

“As a school we are committed to ‘number talks’ once or twice a week, in order to better cement our numeracy instruction,” Dr. Grass said. “These ‘number talks’ require constant revision and planning. The ‘talks’ are what the MTLs observe for each other and provide feedback to. We owe a debt of gratitude to Randy and Zach, for helping to guide our learning over these past years.” 

Some of the benefits of the program, according to Dr. Grass, include:

  • Increased teacher efficacy;
  • Increased trust and collaboration across grade levels and campuses;
  • A deeper knowledge and understanding of math instruction and the math practices; and 
  • Greater teacher retention due to professional growth and challenge. 

Mountain plans to continue to work on their POP and use cross campus collaboration to target student needs.

“We recently brought in the primary grades as MTLs and will continue to sharpen our primary numeracy skills while driving further facility with teacher peer efficacy and feedback,” Dr. Grass said. “This program provides outstanding teacher professional growth. It is worth every effort by me, to help facilitate. I attended the meetings and participated in the instructional rounds personally, as a learner. It was worth our time, and then some, to engage in this work.. It is my goal to  do this in all curricular areas, in the future. These outstanding Mountain teachers deserve every professional resource we can provide..” 

For more information about MTLN, go to

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