“I loved the overall structure of the program – working on problem sets with others in small groups with helpers available.” Joni Swarts, PfT 2005
For over 30 years, PROMYS for Teachers (PfT) has been a leader in teacher development in mathematics education. Through exploration, teacher participants practice the habits of mind at the core of creative mathematics. They enjoy a first-hand experience of mathematical discovery and bring this spirit of independent inquiry into their own classrooms.
A typical day in the summer program begins with a morning lecture at 9:00 a.m. attended by all PROMYS participants. Teachers then work collaboratively and in an exploratory manner on a daily problem set until 5:00 p.m.
In the first summer, new PfT participants focus on Number Theory. U.S.-based teachers earn 8 credits in mathematics from Boston University (BU). Assessment for first-year participants is based on their work on the problem sets and on the results of a mid-term exam and a final exam.
Participants have the option to return for subsequent summers of advanced mathematical investigation and pedagogy. Second-year participants earn 4 graduate credits in education from BU's Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, and 2 graduate credits in mathematics.
During the two summer components, teachers engage in intensive problem-solving activities with other PfT participants. The problem sets encourage participants to design their own numerical experiments to discover mathematical patterns, formulate and test conjectures, and justify their ideas through mathematical proofs. Like the classroom activities that PfT encourages, the problem sets are low threshold high ceiling, so there is enlightenment, discovery, and challenge for teachers from a wide range of mathematical backgrounds.
Counselors (graduate students in mathematics, research mathematicians, and PfT alumni) serve as resources for the teachers. Participants' written work on problem sets is reviewed by the counselor staff each evening and returned the next morning with written comments.
Academic Year Workshops
During the school year, PROMYS teacher alumni are invited to attend five full-day workshops offered jointly by Education Development Center (EDC) and Boston University's Department of Mathematics. These seminars are designed to help teachers unpack the pedagogical approaches used in PROMYS to enrich the mathematical experience in their own classrooms. Another important goal of the workshops is to establish an ongoing network of teachers, mathematics educators, and research mathematicians. In a typical workshop:
- Teacher volunteers share experiences, activities, and student work from their classrooms.
- The whole group works together on mathematics inspired by topics in the secondary curriculum.
Most PfT participants teach in one of over 150 Massachusetts schools. However, we welcome teachers from out-of-state and from other countries. Recently, teachers from Illinois, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates have participated in the program. Ninety percent of PROMYS teachers work in public high schools and over half in high-needs school districts.
PROMYS for Teachers Video: Immersion in Mathematics
Video footage filmed during the 2013 summer session of PROMYS for Teachers.