Preparing elementary teachers to teach math can be daunting. Most noteworthy, is the vast amount of content and the little amount of time to teach. But does it matter what happens in a math methods classroom? In Episode 1707 of the Math Ed Podcast, Sam Otten (@ottensam)talks with math teacher education researchers, Mandy Jansen (@MandyMathEd )and Dawn Berk (@dawn_berk), from the University of Delaware, about their recent article. In the article, they report what they teach in their teacher preparation program shows up in meaningful ways in the classrooms of their graduates.
My takeaways from this episode of the Math Ed Podcast
If what is taught in math methods classes shows up in first year teachers’ classrooms, then I need to:
- Make it significant – Every concept/practice addressed should be central to developing doers of math.
- Make it explainable – Every concept/practice should be paired with the relevant mathematical knowledge needed for teaching. Teachers need this knowledge to understand the importance of what they are teaching. They also need it to understand the many ways students can make sense of the concept/practice. Teachers of math teachers can work toward this by incorporating the word “why?” into math methods courses and stressing thought behind every teaching action.
- Make it sustainable – The amount of content found in the Common Core State Standards cannot possibly be covered in one or two methods classes. As a result, a key practice to instill in future teachers is how to learn about concepts/practices and the knowledge behind those concepts/practices necessary to develop as a teacher of math. Exposing future teachers to knowledge bases like the progressions associated with the Common Core (e.g. Fractions Progression on Illustrative Mathematics) or professional groups (e.g. National Council for Teachers of Mathematics) can provide them with handles to reach for when they leave their teacher preparation programs.
The Podcast and the Article
Amanda Jansen, Dawn Berk, and Erin Meikle (2017) Investigating Alignment Between Elementary Mathematics Teacher Education and Graduates’ Teaching of Mathematics for Conceptual Understanding. Harvard Educational Review: Summer 2017, Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 225-250.
About the Math Ed Podcast
Sam Otten from the University of Missouri releases the Math Ed podcast about once a month. Typically, he selects a recent research article and interviews the author(s), about what they found and how they found it. In addition, Sam has interviewed some legends in mathematics education about their careers and the future of math education. My favorite part of the Math Ed Podcast are the questions that come before and after each interview. Sam asks interviewees about their doctoral work and what they would be doing if they had not entered math education. A favorite response is from Tom Carpenter. He said if he was not in math education he would want to be a point guard for the Golden State Warriors.