AERA 2018 Annual Meeting: “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education”
April 13-17, 2018
Title: Learning to Learn from Teaching and Teacher Knowledge Improvement over Time
Authors: Rossella Santagata
Classrooms can be powerful contexts for teacher learning (Putnam & Borko, 2000; Lewis, Perry, Friedkin, & Roth, 2012). Kazemi & Hubbard (2008) for example, discuss the importance of embedding classroom practice artifacts in professional development settings. Sherin & van Es (2009) engage teachers in close analysis of student thinking portrayed in video clips of teachers’ lessons and discussions of these instances of classroom experiences become sites for teacher learning. Franke et al. (2001) report on how attention to student mathematical thinking during teaching creates opportunities for teacher generative learning. This perspective is central to the design of this study – Can pre-service teachers be taught to use their classrooms as sites for their own learning and knowledge improvement?
In this paper, I examine whether exposure to systematic opportunities to learn from teaching during teacher preparation impacts continuous improvement in teacher knowledge once teachers enter the profession.
Study participants were a sub-sample of a group of 111 teachers who participated in a larger study that focused on the comparisons of two approaches to mathematics method instruction (Author et al., 2017). The sub-sample of 24 teachers was chosen based on teachers’ job placement and continued participation in the study for two years following graduation. Approximately half of the participating teachers attended the Learning to Learn from Mathematics Teaching (LLMT) course (=11) and half the comparison course that followed a more typical math methods instruction (=13). The study addressed the following research questions: (1) Does teacher knowledge for teaching mathematics improve overtime in the two groups of teachers once they enter the profession? And (2) How do teachers learn from their daily work in the classroom?
Teachers completed the Classroom Video Analysis instrument (Kersting et al., 2010), a video-based measure of teacher knowledge for teaching mathematics, at the end of teacher preparation and of each of their first two years of professional teaching. In addition, two case study teachers, one from each group, were considered. These teachers performed similarly on the Classroom Video Analysis instrument at the end of teacher preparation, but showed different trajectories of knowledge improvement over time. Three videotaped lessons and three lesson reflections per year were examined qualitatively to address the second research question.
Significant differences were detected between the LLMT and control groups in the development of knowledge over time. LLMT participants’ knowledge improved to a greater extent, particularly in relation to aspects related to student mathematical thinking. Case study analyses revealed differences in teachers’ reflections on their teaching. The teacher whose knowledge improved was deliberate in her reflections on teaching and on her students’ mathematical thinking and thought systematically about ways she could improve instruction to support her students’ learning. In other words, she used her classroom as context for her own improvement. The other teacher was satisfied with limited evidence of her student learning.
Conclusions highlight how teacher preparation experiences that make explicit the situated character of knowledge and empower teachers to learn from their practice may place future teachers on a trajectory for continuous improvement.