Posted on June 29, 2021 by Christopher Reichert

seemath.png The Support and Enrichment Experience in Math (SEE Math) program has been pairing UTSA pre-service teachers with local schoolchildren since 2017, but it has always been about more than just mathematics. Initially conceived by a group of UTSA professors and doctoral students, the program was intended to incorporate a variety of topics, taking math just a little bit further.

“They designed this program with social justice and equity in mind both for teachers-to-be and definitely [for] the students that we wanted to serve,” said SEE Math coach and coordinator, Grace Trevino.

The program pairs one UTSA student teacher with one area elementary student. Over the course of their sessions, SEE Math mentors get to know students’ interests and existing knowledge to tailor lessons to their individual needs. In particular, the program aims to develop problem-solving skills by helping students make connections between mathematical tasks and their own home and community experiences. This emphasis on enrichment puts SEE Math ahead of normal tutoring sessions, Trevino says.

“A lot of times our program is misconstrued as a tutoring program for children who are academically functioning at a lower level,” she said. “But, It’s an enrichment program that vicariously provides more than tutoring because  not only do they get that one-on-one , but they are also provided with enriching, hands-on math activities that help to develop and strengthen their problem-solving skills and vicariously building their self-esteem and self-concept.

When the program first began in 2017, Trevino says it was difficult finding elementary students to participate in the program, but as SEE Math has gained in popularity and expanded throughout area schools, recruiting is no longer a problem.

“Parents want this,” Trevino said. “They know that it’s a service that their children can benefit from.”

But the children are not the only ones benefiting from the program.  SEE Math has also proven invaluable to UTSA’s pre-service teachers by putting their coursework into practice through working one-on-one with students and designing their activities/lessons for their assigned student – all before they take on designing lessons for a full classroom as clinical teachers.

“We wanted our teachers to take the wealth of knowledge and expertise brought by the children and be able to balance this knowledge and these experiences when they go out and teach math,” Trevino said.

Due to the pandemic, sessions essentially halted for the spring, leaving the SEE Math Team the summer to reorganize, developing plans to going completely virtual when school resumed. 

“It was a little crazy, a little hairy for a while,” Trevino recalled.

Despite the difficulties in scheduling and adjusting to the new virtual format, these ended up demonstrating certain advantages. Specifically, Trevino notes, both UTSA students and local parents appreciated the ability to hold intensive one-on-one sessions without needing to travel to another location.

“Utilizing Zoom to present SEE Math was trying, but it didn’t break us,” Trevino said. “If anything, it strengthened us and some of the pieces of our program,” she said.

In fact, Trevino and her colleagues are exploring the possibility of retaining virtual sessions as an option going forward.

For Hope Allen, a 7 th grade math teacher at Folks Middle School, the virtual sessions proved invaluable while maintaining a busy household. When Allen’s nine-year-old daughter, Amelia, learned about SEE Math in school and expressed an interest in participating, her mother signed her up. While Amelia didn’t struggle academically, she was lacking in motivation and wrestling with negative stereotypes about girls and math.

“She was capable,” Allen said, “but that drive just wasn’t there.”

But throughout her SEE Math sessions, Amelia’s mentor showed her that she had a wide array of talents, boosting her self-esteem.

“I think that through those conversations and through that mentorship, she was able to believe in herself as being a strong student in math, and just being a strong student in academics,” Allen said. “We as parents would always give her those positive affirmations, but hearing it from an outside source I think really built her up.”

Allen says she appreciates SEE Math, both as a parent and a teacher.

“The math in schools is very structured,” she said, “it doesn’t always allow for that building of self-esteem within math. I think that with the SEE Math program, [Amelia] built that self-esteem because she was allowed to have success – she was given the time to have success in math thinking and math problem-solving.”

Ultimately, Allen says she is grateful for the program and for the change she saw in her daughter.

“We realized it was also this program that got her to take responsibility for herself and be self-motivated, and that was an amazing transformation,” she said.

For more information on the UTSA SEE Math program visit .

- Christopher Reichert

— Christopher Reichert