Authors: Victoria M. Hand, Quinton Andre Freeman, Elizabeth van Es, Janet Mercado
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: Teacher noticing is an important component of teachers’ pedagogical practice, as different ways of noticing relate to students’ opportunities to learn (Mason, 2002; Sherin, Jacobs, & Phillip, 2011). At present, opportunities to learn mathematics for different groups of students is inequitable (NCES, 2016). This study examined the noticing practices of mathematics teachers who were skilled at addressing these disparities in their classrooms. Noticing involves becoming attuned to phenomena in ongoing social activity, interpreting these phenomena, and acting accordingly. To notice, then, is to draw a distinction (Mason, 2002), or to “name” phenomena (Sherin et al., 2011). The process of naming involves broader social, cultural and political discourses, which are recognized, interpreted and valued differently (Gee, 1990). Teacher noticing, then, is necessarily a cultural activity. This study examined “noticing for equity” (Erickson, 2013) among nine teacher-participants who were nominated by district leaders for their success at rigorous mathematical inquiry in diverse or hyper-segregated classrooms. Data collection took place over six months and involved: classroom observations, noticing interviews around video clips of teachers’ classrooms, and noticing interviews around professional video clips selected by the researchers. Eight of the teachers were white, one identified as Japanese/Hispanic, six identified as female and three identified as male. For the professional noticing interviews, participants met one-on-one with researchers (with exception of three teachers, who met as a group). Participants described what they were noticing while watching each video clip, and were allowed to stop or replay the videos. The interviews were video-taped. Interviews were jointly coded by the research team. Detailed content logs or transcripts were developed for all of the interviews. Open coding began on a subset of the data and a codebook emerged and was refined. 20% of the interviews were coded by at least two researchers and the results were checked for inter-rater reliability (~80%). The remainder of the interviews were then coded. The codes reflected both what and how the teachers were noticing. Three broad themes emerged in the data analysis, which are currently being refined through quantitative analysis of the data. The themes are as follows:
(1) Skill with reform mathematics instruction was not sufficient for noticing for equity;
(2) Teachers skilled at noticing for equity paid close attention to moment-to-moment discursive moves and how these positioned the students and teacher; and
(3) Teachers skilled noticing for equity recognized the video clip of the teacher who was the most successful at equitable mathematics instruction (in comparison to the teachers in the other video clips).
Each of these themes will be described in detail through vignettes of the noticing interviews. The study suggests that noticing for equity involves attending to aspects of the classroom beyond students’ mathematical reasoning to the ways that particular discursive moves position actors in ongoing social activity. The results of this study expand on current theories of noticing and its relation to instruction and have implications for supporting teachers in achieving equity in practice.