Math coaches or Math interventionists

I am often asked for advice on the best practices for providing math intervention for our struggling students. What curriculum? How long? How often? Which students?

While these are great questions – and indeed we must improve the math intervention we provide our students – the best way to address math intervention is to do EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO AVOID MATH INTERVENTION in the first place.

I’m reminded of this quote by Desmond Tutu, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

A lot of effort is spent on finding a better intervention program, when really we need to find a way to reduce the number of students who need intervention in the first place.


With all this in mind, if you are considering finding a math interventionist whose role will be to work with struggling students, consider instead finding a math COACH whose role would be to help teachers align their instruction with research-informed best practices.


Desmond Tutu would have put it this way…

Math interventionist pull students out of the river.

Math coaches prevent them from falling in in the first place.




  1. Thank you for this analogy. I am applying for a math coach position and this statement crystallizes my thoughts so well as to our role. If I get the position, I’d be interested in collaborating, and bouncing ideas off you on occasion as these roles are few and far between. I followed you on Twitter.

    1. Hi there David…I’m am rooting for you to get the position. I’d be happy to chat with you about the job of math coach. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and we can always arrange a Zoom.