Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

Best Characteristics of a Math Specialist

This discussion is part of a collection:Building Classroom Culture

The Math Specialist or Math Coach is the person you go to when you need help teaching a new concept or when the students just aren't "getting it". The Math Specialist can be a valuable resource. In your opinion what is the best characteristic of an effective math specialist or math coach?


One of the resources on math leadership in this site informs the reader that specialists need to be experts in both mathematics content and the art of teaching. They must have a deep understanding of a variety of instructional strategies and assessment practices, including differentiation, to support teachers. But I believe the most important characteristic of a math specialist is effective interpersonal skills. They need to be attentive listeners and able to get along with all kinds of personalities. At the heart of an effective and productive partnership is a relationship of respect and trust between the specialist and teacher. Although a specialist is considered an "expert", he/she is not the teacher’s supervisor. As equals in this collaboration, teacher effectiveness and student learning will increase.

Mrs. V, I totally agree. Some of the best math specialists that I have worked with have been friendly, trustworthy, and helpful. I felt safe going to them for help and I knew that they would not judge me, but would help me figure out what would work best for my students. Early in my teaching career I worked with one specialist that would co-teach with me on a weekly basis to help me figure out how to teach multiple groups in one classroom.