We provide services to schools, school districts, and organizations that can range from one-year projects, one- or two-summer institutes, or intensive multi-year professional development projects. We provide direct intervention with teachers and trainers as well as early childhood education programs online or through distance learning. Below are components of our professional development that have been used in our programming.

In-Person Learning Labs

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We provide interactive full- or part-day learning sessions in which early childhood teachers, trainers, or administrators gain understanding of the math content and strategies to improve core competencies based on state and federal standards.
PROJECT EXAMPLES: Innovations Big Shoulders AUSL


We created the Big Ideas in Early Mathematics to address the need for a deeper understanding of foundational concepts in math and how they can be included in appropriate early childhood practice. Our Big Ideas use clear language to identify the central concepts within each mathematical topic—such as sets or number sense. Early childhood teachers can use these Big Ideas as a guide for thinking about the kinds of math learning opportunities they need to provide in their classrooms.


The Whole Teacher Approach is a conceptual framework for the design of professional development created by Dr. Jie-Qi Chen, the Principal Investigator for the Early Math Collaborative. While addressing teacher knowledge, attitudes, and practice in an integrated fashion, multiple pathways to teacher development are activated and training is more successful and has longer-lasting effects. This philosophy is used to guide our program design, implementation, and evaluation.

In-Person Coaching

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Coaches play a central role in sustaining the lessons from learning labs at the school level by helping teachers become reflective about teaching and by co-facilitating school-based meetings.


Organized around a three-phase coaching cycle and possibly incorporating video-based observations, coaches guide teachers in practicing “mathematizing” classroom experiences. The goal of the process is to help teachers become skilled in using state and federal standards to plan learning and track children’s progress.


Individualized coaching sessions may be supplemented or gradually replaced by group study in grade-level meetings so that teachers learn to work collaboratively by providing feedback on each others’ teaching and eventually taking on responsibilities themselves.

LEARN MORE: In-Person Coaching

Online Learning Labs

Sometimes online modules of professional development are ideal. Online components of our services can function in conjunction with in-person learning labs or as stand-alone modules.
PROJECT EXAMPLES: Community College Partnership

Each module addresses the five content strands designated by the NCTM as well as the five domains of mathematics specified in the Common Core State Standards that apply to early years education.


  • adult learning activities that help teachers understand the Big Ideas in the topic
  • lecture materials, including PowerPoint slides and talking points that assist instructors with learning lab sessions
  • a research lesson that provides a vehicle for teachers to introduce topics to children in the classrooms
  • videos depicting the research lesson in use in classrooms, along with Focus on the Child video segments that help illustrate how individual children’s thinking develops within each topic

Online Learning Library

All programming, whether in-person or online, is supported by a large library of online resources and media. The Early Math online environment provides resources that are dynamic and catered to the audience and goals being addressed.
PROJECT EXAMPLES: Innovations Big Shoulders AUSL

Early Math Online

This online learning environment features over 120 videos of math lessons and “focus on the child” media clips as well as a growing archive of idea-generating articles and links to external resources. All are categorized and tagged according to Common Core State Standards and the Collaborative’s own Foundational Math Concepts and Big Ideas.

Facilitated Discussion

As part of programming, Discussion boards can provide unique and ongoing ways for instructors, facilitators, and teacher-participants to continue the learning around specific math topics.

Observation and Consultation

Consultation involves instructors and staff visiting a site, observing current practices, and suggesting ways of infusing foundational math principles and practice in classrooms. Content and materials may be provided in conjunction with site visits and regular meetings.

Research and Evaluation

Research and evaluation of educators and/or students can be a part of Early Math Collaborative program services or independent of it. Services may include materials, assessment and analysis, and/or training/certification.


  • Materials: These may include testing kits, online video- and text-based surveys along with the support for conducting them with teachers, or training materials such as coded video examples.
  • Assessment and analysis: The need to implement the assessments and analyze the results by Early Math Collaborative depends on the tool used, the institution’s resources, location, and the number of research participants involved.
  • Training/certification: Depending on the tool used and the resources of each institution, training and certifying staff and validating those results may be an option.


Created by Early Math Collaborative, this observation tool utilizes 9 dimensions organized within 3 domains to assess teacher practice. At a time when classroom observation is becoming the new norm of teacher evaluation, HIS-EM offers a content-focused tool that fills a void to assess early mathematics teaching.


Created by Early Math Collaborative, this online video-based survey assesses a teacher’s understanding of what math content is being taught, what instructional strategies are being used, and whether students understand the content.


Created by Early Math Collaborative, this online survey assesses teachers’ mathematical attitudes and beliefs.


Early Math Collaborative has trained researchers and implemented these student and teacher assessment tools in numerous projects, each time choosing the tool based on the needs of the research being conducted.