Student Support Team Expands
With the addition of a math instructional coach, Nikki Spiers, Graland’s Student Support Team grew to provide more services to Lower School teachers. Nikki’s job is to work alongside teachers as they strengthen content knowledge and refine instructional practices.
With more than 11 years of teaching experience, Nikki has been at Graland since 2012 and has taught in both grades 1 and 4 here. Her strong grasp of mathematical learning progressions and a deep knowledge of our Math in Focus curriculum is an asset to Graland. She has one master’s degree under her belt and is currently studying to earn a second master’s degree in curriculum and instruction as the first recipient of the Borgen Faculty Fellowship.
The newest member of the Student Support Team (SST), Nikki joined her colleagues in spaces newly renovated in the Georgia Nelson Building as funded by the Jurek Family with additional support from the Paul and Alison Gillis Family and the Mauer Family. Reading specialists Kristin Newman and Jacqueline Purdy-Davis are officed there, as well as occupational therapist Crilly Kearney.
Excerpt from The Value of Struggle by Nikki Spiers, Math Instructional Coach
As adults, it can be challenging to watch a child struggle, and our natural inclination is to rescue children from this uncomfortable experience. However, facing challenges that are slightly out of one’s reach develops perseverance, reasoning abilities and deeper conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas and relationships.
Productive struggle directly coincides with Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler’s current research on growth mindset and the work Graland teachers are doing to instill these beliefs in students. Growth mindset enables students to see themselves as a work in progress. The child’s identity is no longer intertwined with the idea of being “smart” or “good at math,” but is based on her ability to persist through challenges and make progress in her learning.
When supporting productive struggle, how we respond matters. Often teachers and parents respond to a child stuck on a math problem by reminding him of the next steps or directing them to a solution familiar to ourselves. Instead, responses to struggles should be grounded in the child’s thinking. When questioning a child about his work, the goal is to encourage the child to reflect on his thinking, articulate his steps or make connections among mathematical ideas and relationships.