Potlatch teacher Leigh Wilson is getting a learning opportunity that most teachers can only dream about.

For this entire school year, Wilson is on sabbatical as she takes an outside look at the education system.

As part of the Making Mathematical Reasoning Explicit project at Washington State University and the University of Idaho, Wilson is using this year to observe math education strategies and implement methods to help students soak in the material better.

"What I realize is that the greatest thing this experience is giving me, teaching me, is how amazing it is to be able to share with others the things that have made such a difference in my own math practices as a teacher," Wilson said. "I've had so much invested in me over the last four to five years with the MMRE project. It's incredible and humbling to be able to share that knowledge and experience with other teachers and to see it making such a difference."

Wilson has been sitting in with a variety of teachers from kindergarten through eighth-grade to watch and observe what they are doing and then formulate goals.

"I've had a lot of help in developing my own math teaching methods, and so to be able to share that with others and actually have the time to work with others to implement those things has been amazing," Wilson said. "And it's only been what a couple of months at school so far."

Wilson has been a teacher for 10 years, with five of those years coming in Potlatch. Before becoming an educator she earned a bachelor's degree in communications and worked in the business sector as a corporate trainer. That trained her on how to guide and help people long before she stepped foot back in the classroom.

It was only when she had children of her own she found her passion for teaching. She taught K-12 music and then sixth grade before moving on to fourth-grade.

Now, Wilson is figuring out what she can take from her sabbatical as she moves back into her own classroom.

"One of my big proposals when I wrote out why I wanted to do this job this year was to create a math leadership team on our campus that I could work very focused with during this year, so that we could have some longevity with this program."

After observing teachers from several grades, she has been able to see the skills taught in one grade being applied with students a year older.

"It's been an amazing growth process for me," Wilson said.

Tom Hager can be reached at (208) 883-4633 or by email to thager@dnews.com.

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