In our series celebrating the tireless dedication and contributions of EdReports educator reviewers, we talk with math educator, Jonathan Regino. Jonathan shares his perspectives from the classroom to coach to central office and how these experiences have shaped his views on the importance of high quality instructional materials and the benefits of supporting teachers with the resources they need to help students thrive.

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Full Transcript

Jess Barrow  00:08

Hi, I’m Jess Barrow and this is the EdVoices Podcast. Today I’m joined by Jonathan Regino. He has been a math reviewer with us and is currently the supervisor of mathematics for the Interboro School District. Hi, Jonathan, I’m excited to have you here today and would love to kind of just jump right into who you are. Would you mind to tell us a little bit about your journey in education?

Jonathan Regino  00:32

Jess, thank you. I’m really excited to talk about my work with EdReports and what I’ve been doing. So I started off as a middle school math science teacher in Twin Valley School District, I taught for 10 years. I hit that 10 year mark and had the itch to try something new. So I left teaching and went to go work for something called an Intermediate Unit which works with all the school districts in the county. So I worked for Delaware County intermediate, Intermediate Unit for a few years. In the meantime, while doing that, I became the program manager and a facilitator for CODATA work. So, it’s training computer science, training teachers on math. Eventually, I left there and then went to go work for the training arm of the Bureau of Special Ed, I was getting a lot of questions about bath and Special Ed and I couldn’t answer them as well as I wanted to. So I’d love to go more for the training arm and learn some more. And I did that for a few years. And then I went back to the classroom and started working as a supervisor of math and then the supervisor of STEM for Marple Newtown School District. Did that for a little bit. And then again, I started getting some questions I couldn’t answer. So I left and I went to go work for age of learning. It’s an ed tech company based out of LA. And I did that for a year, and started in this current role as a math supervisor in a rural school district.

Jess Barrow 02:02

That’s so exciting. And I know we’ve chatted before and we’ve worked together before and I know how much sort of variety of expertise you bring, you’ve sort of worked with instructional materials from so many different angles, would you mind to tell us a little bit more about what it means what it means in your current role. When we say supervisor of math, what are some of the things that means you’re doing on a daily or yearly basis?

Jonathan Regino  02:27

That’s actually kind of funny, most people when I say what I what I do, nobody knows what a supervisor of any curriculum is. So I am kind of like the captain steering the ship for Matt and the district. We have a assigned supervisor here and an ELA supervisor. And so I focus on the math side and make those high level decisions of what curriculum would textbook we’re going to use. How are we going to teach math are we going to be more conceptual, more inquiry, procedural, all those kind of facets, facets of learning. And then, on the other side, I come off as a coach for teachers. So I work with all my teachers and help them improve the teaching of math and help the students with the learning side of that. So many days, I’ll be in the classroom, and I’m sitting with a group of students working with them one on one, or in a small group, or co teaching with a teacher, or modeling the lesson for them. And then on the other day is doing more of the implementation. You know, what, what resources are we going to use? If we’re bringing in new resource on doing the training for my district, and helping to make those kinds of decisions?

Jess Barrow 03:46

Yeah, well, no, that’s a huge, a huge opportunity and responsibility. And we’ll definitely we’ll have we’ll come back to this in terms of adopting and implementing instructional materials and some of your perspective on that. But before we get there, I would love to hear a little bit about sort of your involvement with EdReports. When and why did you start reviewing with us?

Jonathan Regino  04:12

I was actually trained back in 2018. But I didn’t do my first review until 2020. I went through the training, took some time to learn about pet reports. And the whole reason I even got into this. So when I was working for the intermediate unit, and I was working with my districts, I was on most of those teams that were reviewing new materials and trying to decide on the next textbook. And while I was doing my research, and reports kept popping up over and over again and it kind of out of nowhere. It seemed like my social media was blowing up about it. All the research I was doing about curriculum kept every course kept popping up. And so the running theme of my life is if I don’t know something, I go and join it to learn more about about it. So in 2018 I signed up to get trained by EdReports because I wanted to be able to go back to my districts, and say this is what every report is about, this is why we should use them or not use them. And this is what we’re gonna get out of the information that they’re providing. So I did that, the training, and I walked away with a wealth of knowledge that I immediately got to use with my districts. And then I had the opportunity to hop on my first review. And I went through that process. And I really had wished I had done that earlier, because it completely changed the way I looked at curriculum and the way I thought about curriculum, and even the conversations I was having with districts changed. So I did that review in 2020. Was my first one. I’ve done two more since then. And then in 2021, actually, as part of the club, a fellowship with EdReports. And I got to really learn a whole lot more about the curriculum side and working with state leadership and government when it comes to curriculum.

Jess Barrow 05:59

Yeah, you know, Jonathan, I appreciate that so much. You mentioned going through the review process with EdReports completely changed the way you look at curriculum. I would love for you to if you wouldn’t mind just to reflect a little bit more about like, yeah, what did you learn from that experiences? What were some of the ways you’re you had some shifts or changes in the way you thought about curriculum, and how you ended up applying it to your current roles in education?

Jonathan Regino  06:27

When I was teaching it was during the time a common core came out. And so I was part of that process of switching over to Common Core, Pennsylvania, where I’m from actually had his own version of Common Core. So we we kind of did two shifts over time. And I was there when we when we got new textbooks when we wrote curriculum. So while I was the teacher, if you had asked me about standards and about curriculum, I would have told you, I knew everything. I knew all my standards inside Out. I knew about curriculum, I wrote curriculum, I got this, you know, I knew what I was doing. Going through the training. And then actually going through review, I realized how little I actually knew about standards and curriculum.

One of the things that really caught my attention to this, if we take away all of the breadcrumbs for standard, you know, take away the numbers and the letters and just have the verbiage, the letter, the words of the standard, new layout all those out there, there are a lot of people who would struggle, saying which standard belong in which grade level and ordering them the correct way. And it was something as simple as that, that kind of opened up my eyes of how little actually knew about my standards, I felt like I could pick out all the middle school standards, because I taught them. But then when you take away all of those, breadcrumbs becomes a really difficult thing to do.

The other piece is, I never even really thought about priority standards versus supporting standards, I didn’t think about the way that standards connected or interacted with each other, or how how one standard led to another. So going through that training, and really thinking about all that was eye opening, it got to the point where when you’re doing a review, you’re arguing over a single word in a sentence and how that verb could change the whole meaning of the sentence. And if we read it one way, we can we can say it supports a standard or it covers a mathematical practice. But if you read it another way, it doesn’t actually meet that. So as your viewer, you’re you’re going back and forth through your team to to come up with what does this word actually mean? What does this sentence actually mean? And when you’re looking at content and textbooks and curriculum at that level, and in that depth, you can’t really see a textbook the same way anymore?

Jess Barrow 08:40

No, I mean, that word you just said ‘depth’ really is what sticks out to me in the in the experience you’re describing, and sort of the the level that these reviews go into where you’re you’re touching every page, you’re calibrating with your teammates, you’re finding evidence. So not only is that important for the ultimate review, but it’s teaching you things throughout the process as well. Well, I appreciate so much hearing, you know, what you’re learning and how you’re how you’re thinking about that. But this process is is also one of impact and you’re contributing to a huge amount of impact for the field. I would love to hear a little more about like, what are you most proud of about the work you’ve done as a reviewer and the contributions you’ve made getting more information out there about instructional materials.

Jonathan Regino  09:34

The best experience, definitely was the Klawe Fellowship. So, I was accepted in 2021 and we got to work on a passion project for two years. And every month we’d meet with experts in the field and you’re going through with a cohort of people who are all trying to do the same thing with their own passion project and bouncing ideas and having these conversations. I focused on math interventions at that K-2 level. And what that means when we talk about high quality curriculum, and what should we look for? And how do we best implement that for there’s teachers of there’s younger kids. And I got to talk to leadership in Pennsylvania.

And I go to, I actually got to present NCTM, about the Klawe Fellowship and about what I learned and my passion project. That was an incredible experience to go to NCTM and talk about it. I do my state level conferences. I still even though I’m a math supervisor, for a district, I’m still meeting with leadership in surrounding school districts we all meet as math cohort, and we talk about curriculum and I get to talk about reports and the impact it’s had, and about the way it changes the the interaction we have with teachers, if we start off with really good curriculum, and we don’t start off with good curriculum, all the extra work that we have to do and teachers have to do. And just that experience of of being able to talk about this work and how it’s changing education and changing the math field. It’s been an amazing thing. It used to be when you mentioned EdReports, a couple of people in the room might know what it is, or nobody knew what it is. And now I say reports. Everybody knows what it is. They all know about the reports, they’ve all checked that box. And they’ve looked at the website, even before we have a conversation about what’s next.

Jess Barrow 11:29

That is such a testament to the work that you and your teammates and fellow reviewers have been doing to get the word out and to, you know, I think the reports really speak for themselves in terms of, you know, how many people are using them to help guide those decisions? You just mentioned, how tough it can be for teachers, if they’re not starting out with that strong foundation of strong instructional materials. Given your background, both in the classroom, and the fact that you’re working with teachers all the time, even in your current role. I would love to hear a little more about why it is so important for teachers to have access to the support of a really strong, high quality curriculum.

Jonathan Regino  12:15

There’s a chart and I’m not sure who originated this chart to see it mentioned to a lot of people. But basically, it has these five things that need to be in place for any kind of change to happen, right. So as vision, skills, incentives, resources, and action planning, and if any of those pieces are missing, change tends to fall apart. And when we talk about curriculum, a lot of times, we are missing pieces of this, they might all be there in a textbook. But our teachers trained in it, too, they understand it. And when they when those pieces are missing, that’s when the curriculum adoptions tend to fall apart, or you see it work for a couple of years.

And by year three, people aren’t getting trained anymore, and things start to disappear. When we talk about high quality curriculum, if it’s not there, that’s when teachers are doing their research. You know, it’s like that Sunday night research, I’m going to spend Sunday night preparing for the week, gotta find resources for my struggling students, I gotta find resources for my high fliers, I have a class of ELL students, I need to find resources for them. But if we start off with high quality curriculum, if we start with curriculum that has all those pieces, then Sunday night, I can spend focused on the philosophy of the curriculum, or I can spend time on by going deeper on the content and thinking about the questioning and when to use and think about the projects I’m going to do instead of trying to find resources.

But if we, even if we start off with something that isn’t high quality, that means the district’s paying money for a curriculum, and then you’re paying teachers on top of that to rewrite the curriculum, and then you’re, you’re paying money on top of that, for people to do PD, all the fixing thing that if we had started off with high quality curriculum in the first place, we could cut out all those extra expenses.

Jess Barrow 14:11

No, I hear you on that. And I, you also mentioned so it’s important to have access to this to these quality instructional materials. But you also you know, we can we can kind of go back to this your it’s not just enough to have these right. Like, it’s important, like the process of how we choose these materials and the support we’re giving teachers in the classroom to actually use these materials matter just as much. So you know, you we started talking about this a little bit, but part of that is and we know this doesn’t happen everywhere is making sure teachers are a voice as you’re choosing materials and I know you’ve been a part of a lot of different curriculum adoption processes. What do you see as important about involving teacher voice as part of that decision making, especially when it comes to, as you mentioned, like how to maneuver that complex changes and ensure that these materials are actually used?

Jonathan Regino  15:13

I think teachers need to be involved from the very first step. Too often in my position, we, as supervisors narrowed down the list of what we’re going to look at. And then once that list is narrowed, we send off one or two teachers to pick film. And then they pilot those programs, they might pilot for a unit or a couple of days or a month, and then they make a decision. And there’s no connection to the whole entire process at that point, right. They, I made the suggestions to other districts to my own teachers, if you have the opportunity, go get trained by EdReports, even if you don’t do review, get trained by EdReports. So you totally understand what it means to actually review a curriculum. So when you’re making those decisions of what curriculum we should go with, who actually understand what you’re looking for, what you should be looking at when it comes to curriculum.

Too often, when teachers are doing reviews, or when supervisors doing reviews are missing the philosophy behind the product that we’re looking at. Right? We’re just looking at the page and looking at how its taught compared to how we used to teach, instead of why did they design it the way it was designed. I saw on social media a few days ago, this argument going back and forth about whether it’s more important for the a PD on on how to run a program, or the PD on the philosophy behind the program. And where it’s coming down on was, you know, most programs can be taught how to use the program in a couple hours. But the ideas behind it and why we use it like why are we using manipulatives? Why are we using strategies or models? All that is way more important, and you need to spend the time on it. And all that’s part of that curriculum review, like understanding from K all the way through 12. How are those models or strategies and middle positions are going to be used? And even when we do reviews, and we’re looking for pilots and implementing a lot of times there’s pieces are are well, we’ll get to that if we buy this product, and we’ll spend more time on it. And I think that needs to happen during the reviews. That’s why teachers need to be involved because they need to be able to answer those questions.

Jess Barrow 17:19

Yeah, I love that you said from the very beginning of the process. So it’s not coming in halfway or coming in at the end, when things like a lot of decisions have already been made. It’s having those voices at the table from the earliest possible moment. Well, Jonathan, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and your expertise with us. But also, just as someone who’s been a part of EdReports for almost seven years now, just thank you so much for being a reviewer and the long hours and contributions you’ve made. You know, I see every day in my job here. Like what a difference you and all the reviewers are making. So just genuinely grateful on that front. And we will hope to talk to you again very soon.

Jonathan Regino  18:04

Without EdReports, reviewing curriculum would be impossible. There’s so much content out there right now. And not having that first step of what even to narrow down our list or what we should look at or why we should look at it. Even the framework of how you view if that didn’t exist, like it our ability to do what we need to do to figure out what’s best for students would be impossible. So I am appreciative whatever EdReports does and the way that you use teachers to do all this work, it’s amazing and I can’t wait for what comes out in the future and how you progress how the company progresses.

Jess Barrow 18:47

Yeah, well, I’m glad we’re on this team and this journey together. We’re so lucky to work with so many amazing educators. We will talk soon.