STEP Professional Development Process

STEP provides teachers the opportunity to engage in a practice-based professional development (PD) experience - teachers can put into practice what they learn, reflect on how their instruction goes, and get feedback to make a plan for improvement. Rather than providing a one-time PD experience, STEP promotes an on-going cycle of knowing, planning, practicing, and reflecting. Through online learning modules, teachers will gain knowledge about young children’s mathematics learning, strategies to support this learning, and the links between executive function (EF) and mathematics skills. Through intentional planning, teachers will translate their knowledge into practice. Finally, teachers get a chance to reflect on their teaching with a coach as they review classroom video together.

The STEP process


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Learning New Knowledge

Through a series of online learning modules, teachers gain a strong understanding of each of the five areas of early mathematics. Video-based lessons introduce the different mathematics skills, and show how children’s early mathematics learning develops across these different skills. Teachers also learn effective strategies for supporting children's math learning and are introduced to the links between EF and children's developing mathematics skills.

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Making a Plan

STEP encourages teachers to make a plan for implementing mathematics activities in the preschool classroom. The goal in doing so is to help teachers become more intentional about the strategies they use to support mathematics learning, both during whole and small group lessons and throughout the day during meal times, transitions, and routines. Teachers can use the STEP planning process with their own lesson plans or choose from one of the lessons provided in the STEP learning modules.

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Trying it Out

A unique feature of STEP is that we help teachers translate newly-learned knowledge into their daily teaching practice. As part of STEP, teachers get an opportunity to try out the new mathematics strategies they've learned. More importantly, teachers don't just try them out, they videotape their mathematics instruction so they can see how the lesson went and share the experience with a coach for further discussion.

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Reflecting on How it Went

The ultimate goal of STEP is to help teachers gain a deeper understanding of early mathematics and EF, and encourage teachers to think critically about their own instruction. Teachers get an opportunity to watch several short video clips of their own mathematics teaching. Each video clip is selected by a coach and includes a short prompt that helps teachers reflect on what they see in the video. After reflecting on their own, teachers then talk with a coach to reflect on how the instruction went and make a plan for improvement.