About 2017 Workshop
Time: April 1 – 3, 2017
Location: Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
The need for improving the mathematical preparation of elementary teachers is not new, nor simply a local one. Mathematics knowledge for teaching (both pure content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge) is a recognized key to the quality of mathematics classroom instruction. Likewise, the need for improving elementary teacher knowledge preparation in mathematics in the United States is clearly acknowledged (e.g., CBMS, 2012). Although there has been work toward providing improved mathematics training to elementary teachers, we lack generally recognized, replicable and widely adopted models for elementary teacher training in mathematics. More fundamentally, we lack a clear understanding of how experiences in college courses influence teaching practice, how these courses might be made more effective and how other forms of professional support might add value to pre-service training. How to better provide elementary teachers with solid mathematics training remains a big challenge to mathematics educators, mathematicians and teacher educators alike.
The workshop will bring together researchers, other scholars and practitioners in mathematics, mathematics education and teacher education to focus on issues related to mathematical preparation for pre-service elementary teachers. Three questions form the structure of the workshop:
1. What do we know about the mathematical proficiency pre-service teachers need to start teaching mathematics effectively, and what do we know about providing it?
Cross-national studies (e.g., Teacher Education and Development Study – Mathematics (TEDS-M) in 2008) have assessed the future elementary and middle school teachers’ knowledge about mathematics related to what they will be teaching and their knowledge related to the teaching of mathematics. We will explore further what we know about pre-service elementary teachers’ mathematics proficiency and what elementary teachers need to know in order to teach mathematics effectively.
2. How are elementary teacher preparation programs structured and what are the core ideas and practices in the mathematical preparation of elementary teachers?
The mathematical training provided to teachers ought to focus on certain indispensable core ideas, which are now identified pretty clearly in many standards documents, and should provide teachers with the kind of understanding of these ideas that would support them in planning instruction and responding to students’ needs. Training should also reflect certain general features of the practice of mathematics, such as meaning, purposefulness, coherence, rigor and productive disposition. With the limited time available for elementary teachers in mathematics preparation, it is important to identify fundamental mathematical structures, ideas and ways of behaving and to design related experiences for elementary teachers that will have an enduring meaning and influence in their future professional lives.
3. How can partnerships between Mathematics Departments and Colleges of Education (and other agencies) be built for effective mathematics education of pre-service teachers?
There is no doubt that mathematics departments should contribute to the mathematical preparation for teachers. However, since elementary school teachers are typically prepared as generalists with mathematics as just one content subject, we need to consider possible options in model development, with cooperation between mathematicians and educators. What are some success stories in fostering such collaborations? What are some takeaway lessons from these experiences? How can a Mathematics Department’s contribution to teacher preparation be optimized? What are ways of supporting mathematicians to engage in elementary teacher preparation?