CPM’s Teacher Research Corps: A program for teachers to find their voice and drive their own learning

November 2023

teachers working around a table

In the September newsletter, we introduced the Teacher Research Corps (TRC) as a professional learning program that brings together a community of like-minded teachers, supports them to develop reflective teaching practices, and promotes their learning and leadership. This community includes both mathematics teachers and other teachers who are essential collaborators, such as special education co-teachers. In this article, we’d like to introduce another investigative team that formed at the June 2023 TRC 10.0 Institute. This team is unique because two of the four teachers are co-teachers: Amanda is a special education teacher and Tom is Amanda’s collaborating general education mathematics teacher. We will focus on Amanda’s powerful story because we so highly value the work that special education teachers do to support students in inclusive CPM classrooms. 


Amanda’s story: Finding your voice to advocate from and for the margins

Here is Amanda’s story, in her own words: 

As a special education teacher, I care deeply about students who typically do not “fit” into traditional educational structures (behaviorally, academically, executive functionally, etc.). 

I’m tired of seeing students express emotions of discontent and exhibit low confidence; they often feel overwhelmed, unsafe, left behind, and unseen. 

I want to infuse updated thinking and practices into traditional classroom settings to support all learners, including those who are typically marginalized. I want to spread awareness and foster cultures of self-growth, learning, and safety. 

I sometimes find that difficult as a special education teacher because I am always in “someone else’s space” — someone else’s classroom with their rules, their content, their teaching style. It can be difficult to collaborate and partner with teachers as an equal partner. 

I constantly am seeking new learning and education about trauma-informed practices and neuroscience. I know my stuff, but I also have a ton to learn. 

For a very long time, I sat in the backseat. I let other teachers run “their” class, even if students on my caseload were deeply struggling. 

I’m now finding my voice and confidence. Co-teaching with Tom (with our CPM coach John Hayes as our guide) provided me with a platform I didn’t know existed. For once, I started to share my thoughts and actually have discussions when others disagreed with them or questioned them. I am ready to finally fully jump in and be a true co-teacher this year. I want to find my place in my school and own my knowledge. That is something that is really hard for me to do. TRC last year helped me find my voice and gave me “permission” to try new and interesting practices.

At CPM, we know that real inclusion is not only about having bodies in the same place, but about truly ensuring that all students know that they belong, can meaningfully participate, and have valuable mathematical contributions to collaborative, problem-based tasks. We hope to have more special education teachers join TRC 11.0!

Meet the rest of the team, “Student access and ownership”! 

This team selected their name to reflect the focus of their investigation for the year. Their guiding questions were: 

  • How can we foster student ownership in their learning by creating student access points to mathematical content and group discussions?
  • How can we create and foster collaborative learning groups that enable students to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills?

The teachers on this team chose to participate in TRC for a variety of reasons. Which of the reasons resonate with you?

Amanda Kadulski

Amanda is a 6-year teaching veteran. She co-teaches (with Tom Dagit) 7th (CC2) and 8th grade (CC3) math courses as a special education teacher at a suburban middle school with 37% free and reduced-price lunch.



I’m participating in TRC 10.0 because… 

TRC last year helped me find my voice and gave me “permission” to try new and interesting practices. I want to expand upon that to further my knowledge and support students in deeper, more meaningful ways. I love meaningful, impactful PD that actually transforms my practice and challenges my thinking. TRC is exactly that.

Tom Dagit

Tom is a 15-year teaching veteran. He co-teaches (with Amanda) 7th (CC2) and 8th grade (CC3) math courses as a general education teacher at a suburban middle school with 37% free and reduced-price lunch.


I’m participating in TRC 10.0 because… 

Participating in TRC last year was by far the single best thing that I’ve done in my teaching career to really help my students. After last year, I felt like there was still more that I needed to do, more that I needed to work on, and more that I could contribute. I’m excited to be back to work with the people in TRC. Everyone is always helpful and the environment really makes me think and pushes me in my teaching strategies.

Brooke Raven

Brooke is a 15-year teaching veteran. She teaches CCG and CCA2 at a rural high school with 46% free and reduced-price lunch. 

I’m participating in TRC 10.0 because… 

I am blessed to have been part of TRC for many years and have found this particular PD extremely valuable. I enjoy collaborating with other teachers from across the country who have similar goals for their classrooms and their students. I believe that I am a better educator because of the work we have done in TRC over the years. My grading practices have changed drastically, as have my classroom practices. These have translated to change within my math department at my school and helped more students find success in the classroom. I am excited for a new year and the ideas we come up with. I hope to encourage my students to engage more deeply with the mathematics and be active participants in the classroom. I want my classroom to be a place of learning, collaboration, and community.

Seni Weber

Seni is a 23-year teaching veteran. She teaches INT1 and INT2 at a suburban high school with 52% free and reduced-price lunch.

I’m participating in TRC 10.0 because… 

As a new instructor to CPM as well as someone who works with a small team within my district, I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with individuals who have experience with the curriculum. I am looking forward to being able to get ideas and learn and grow in my practice from individuals who are teaching and doing what I am doing.

Want to learn more? 

CPM’s Teacher Researchers earn an annual stipend to support the extra work that they do during the school year. Their travel and lodging for the TRC Institute are covered by CPM. Applications for the 2024–25 school year are open January 2024 through March 2024. To learn more, contact TRC’s Program Manager, Mark Coté, at markcote@cpm.org

Keep an eye out for insights from Teacher Researchers: 

  • in CPM’s Newsletter from Teacher Researchers; and 
  • at CPM’s Annual Teacher Conference.
Picture of CPM’s Teacher Research Corps Leadership Team

CPM’s Teacher Research Corps Leadership Team

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.