Learning to "See" the Practice of Teaching in an Elementary Mathematics Methods Course
Teaching mathematics is a complex, multi-textured activity that
involves making practical moves, reflection, and decision making on a
variety of levels, most frequently in real time. Math teachers
simultaneously manage mathematical ideas, the particular tasks they are
embedded in, and students' encounters with them. These layers of
complexity often go unrecognized by novice teachers. A central
challenge of the preparation of elementary mathematics teachers is to
help them look inside teaching and "see" the threads that comprise it,
and to support them in beginning to weave their own practice.
My goal in using records of practice with the preservice teachers in
my course is to help them begin to "see" the work of mathematics
teaching. I was curious about how using records of practices would help
beginning teachers see teaching and what the records of practice would
enable them to see.
As I describe in this website, I used
four dimensions of teaching-task,
tools, discourse, norms-to frame and dissect the work of teaching. My
students used these dimensions and records of practice to examine the
teaching of an experienced teacher, Mary Hurley, and their own.
Using Records of Practice to Reflect on the Work of Teaching
My students engaged in three sequenced activities related to examining
teaching: Watching someone else teaching else teach; Planning their own
teaching; and Reflecting on their own teaching.
They began by exploring Mary Hurley's website and watching and
analyzing a 30 minute clip of her introducing negative integers to her
fourth and fifth grade students. They then drew on their learning about
teaching to design a mathematics lesson to teach in their field
classrooms. Each prospective teacher selected a pedagogical focus to
emphasize in their planning and teaching. Finally, they reflected on
and analyzed their own teaching drawing on the analytical tools they
had built through examining Mary Hurley's classroom. The four
dimensions of teaching served as the primary lens they used throughout
the pieces of the assignment. Applying the four dimensions to someone
else's teaching provided them with practice seeing these components of
teachers' work and prepared them to consider them in their own work.
About this Site
This site is designed to share how I used records of practice and
the four dimensions of teaching to help prospective elementary teachers
learn to see teaching. My Teaching Context provides information about me and the teacher education program I teach in.
My Course provides details about my mathematics methods course for preservice elementary teachers.
Watching Someone Else Teach describes how I used Mary Hurley's website to engage my students in examining teaching.
Planning Their Own Teaching describes how these students designed lessons to teach in their field classrooms.
Reflecting on Their Teaching
provides details on their reflections on and analyses of their teaching
in light of the work we had done during the semester on seeing
teaching. This page provides some glimpses of what these preservice
teachers were learning to see and my efforts to help them make
connections to our earlier discussions.