Conceptualizing and investigating mathematics teacher learning of practice

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jared Neil Webb (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
P. Holt Wilson

Abstract: Researchers and teacher educators have made advances in describing mathematics instruction that can support all students in developing conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, and productive dispositions toward mathematics. Some scholars have described teaching toward these goals as ambitious teaching – teaching that attends and responds to all students as they engage in intellectually rigorous mathematical activity. To further specify this broad vision, core practices of ambitious teaching are being unpacked and identified so that teachers can learn to enact these practice to support student learning. To support teacher learning, teacher educators have increasingly engaged prospective teachers in rehearsing core practices in less complex settings to learn the skills and purpose for enacting these practices. Emerging research on rehearsals has demonstrated its value in aiding prospective teachers in beginning to enact ambitious teaching practices prior to entering the profession. While interest in a core practice approach to teaching and teacher learning has grown, scholars have noted that a shared conceptual model of practice might further the field in making progress in accumulating knowledge and building theory of teacher learning of practice. Additionally, others posit that a core practice approach may also support teachers in professional development, yet to this point there has been little conceptual and empirical efforts attending to teacher learning of core practices. This study addresses these gaps in the literature by investigating a conceptual model of teaching and a teacher educator pedagogy, rehearsal, to advance efforts promoting mathematics teacher learning of ambitious teaching. Three manuscripts collectively illustrate progress on these ideas, drawing upon data and analyses from two years of research in a practice-based professional development for secondary mathematics teachers. The first manuscript develops and investigates a conceptual model of teaching to improve design and research efforts for teacher learning of ambitious teaching. This conceptual paper addresses a set of design considerations and learning tensions inherent in a core practice approach and examines hierarchical modularity as a way to conceptualize teaching to reconcile these challenges. The second manuscript brings together this conceptual model with a social theory of learning and reports on a retrospective analysis of four teachers’ attempts to enact core practices in their classrooms to explore the ways teachers recompose practices over time toward more ambitious forms of teaching. Findings from an analysis of 5,300 instructional moves teachers used over 20 lessons, highlight that small changes in teachers’ use of instructional moves that press students to justify their reasoning and orient students to one another’s mathematical ideas, supported corresponding changes in teachers’ enactments of larger practices of teaching. The third manuscript describes a design for rehearsals for teacher learning of core practices in professional development. It details our design process, describes the ways teachers engaged in rehearsals, and offers evidence of how two teachers engagement in rehearsals corresponded to changes in their classroom practices. The conceptual arguments in the first manuscript furthers the fields efforts to conceptualize practice to explore teacher learning using a core practice approach. The empirical analysis in the second manuscript provides new ways to explore how learning can be evidenced and investigated across teachers enactments of core practices in their teaching. The design of rehearsals discussed in the third manuscript provides the field with ways to envision and repurpose pedagogies of practice from teacher development to support teacher learning of ambitious teaching. Together, the three manuscripts identify areas for continued inquiry and effort for the design and implementation of practice-based professional development and research on teacher learning of practice.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Learning Sciences, Mathematics Education, Professional Development, Teacher Learning, Teacher Education
Mathematics $x Study and teaching
Mathematics teachers $x In-service training

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