Michael Cassaro, Elementary Mathematics Michael believes that mathematics is a thinking, sense-making endeavor. When we seek to understand how mathematical ideas are connected to each other and in the world around us, mathematics becomes an entirely new type of pursuit. By modeling a learning posture, Michael invites all participants into the conversation about growing our practice. It is through this shared dialogue that we become better teachers and improve student learning.
Michael tutored middle school students in Worcester, Massachusetts, taught English to middle and high school students in rural Austria, and experienced exemplary teaching in New York City’s District 2 while earning his masters in childhood education at New York University. Michael then spent over ten years teaching and coaching in a range of elementary grades in the Bronx, Harlem, and in Newark, NJ.
In the summer of 2008 Michael attended the Summer Institute at Math in the City (MitC), subsequently participated in several Teaching Learning Communities with Antonia Cameron, and was coached on-site by Joan Backer. In 2009 Michael began attending the Coach Collaborative and continues to find strength in this community of learners who support, challenge, and reflect with each other monthly. It was also during this time that Michael earned his second masters, Leadership in Mathematics Education from Bank Street College.
Through his work in schools and professional development with MitC and Metamorphosis, Michael has developed a robust knowledge of mathematics content and a flexible toolkit of coaching moves, which converge to support teacher development. In his role as teacher and coach, Michael has: facilitated grade level meetings that focus on evidence of student learning and instructional next steps; coached teachers individually and publicly using the co-plan, co-teach, debrief framework; facilitated professional development workshops for large groups of teachers and staff; provided sustained professional development sessions responsive to needs; and developed and adapted curriculum and assessment to support deep student learning. When not doing math with his toddler, Michael can be found with his friends and family – telling stories, breaking bread, and attempting to keep a garden.
Q: What are you most passionate about in education?
Social justice and equity. I am passionate about generating high levels of mathematical thinking and sense-making for all students, particularly within populations that have historically been robbed of the opportunity. I am also passionate about helping teachers and students regain ownership of mathematics – to see themselves as mathematical thinkers who are able to actively construct their understanding of mathematics in a community of learners.
Q: What do you love about Metamorphosis?
I love the people and the playful, intellectual, challenging and supportive manner with which we continue to grow and learn. Our clients’ expectation that we will be excellent helps me hold myself to the highest standards.
Q: What do you want to influence in education?
I want to influence people’s perception of what it means to do math and to think mathematically. More than pushing numbers around, doing mathematics means asking questions, seeking patterns and noticing relationships, developing the ability to reason quantitatively and abstractly about problematic mathematical situations, and communicating clearly and precisely about one's thinking.
You really helped me understand math, and you helped me understand that I can do math problems all by myself. At first, I thought I was horrible at math. But with the help of your math problems I think I am pretty good at it now!
Thank you for challenging us and [helping us see] that we should never give up when doing a challenging problem.
You taught me how to truly believe in myself no matter the challenge.
I learned not to give up when I face a problem
“Our grade level meetings have really helped me look at student work differently. When we mapped out the range of student strategies and connected them to students’ understanding of the big ideas, it really helped me think about what to do in guided math tomorrow. “
-Rachel, second grade teacher
“You have been so supportive of me this year. I used to be afraid of math and now it is my favorite subject to teach!”
-Beth, fifth grade teacher