Fostering effective mathematics teaching: Professional coaching and teachers' instructional practices and beliefs
Two decades ago the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics challenged the mathematics education community to promulgate a comprehensive set of learning goals for K-12 students that would guide mathematics curriculum, teaching, and assessment for the future. One consequence was an emphasis on professional development of teachers. Accordingly, in 2003, New York City's public schools started a math coaching program, whereby math education experts worked closely with math teachers for an extended period of time in the teachers' schools. This program became an opportunity for important research regarding the effectiveness of coaching.
This study describes the collaboration between one coach and one teacher in the implementation of the coaching system. The researcher observed and videotaped a lesson and the subsequent debriefing between the teacher and coach; and interviewed the teacher, coach, and principal.
The benefit to the classroom teacher was supported by analysis of the data. The teacher reported that, for the first time, math was “fun,” she was more confident, and more class time was devoted to mathematics. The teacher paid closer attention to student work, reflected on her own practice, grouped students more beneficially, encouraged them to interact, and to make their thinking public. She did not view answers as just right or wrong, but rather as part of a process of making sense of ideas.
The data suggest: (1) The teacher reported that some of her beliefs about math teaching had changed due to the coaching process. (2) Teacher practices mirrored teacher beliefs. There are signs that the coaching is influencing the teacher's practice. (3) The coach helped the teacher learn mathematics and pay attention to the math learning of her students. (4) The teacher is in a state of transition in many of her emerging beliefs, suggesting that some of them are fragile.
While results of the study are promising, further research is recommended to examine long term effects of coaching with more teachers and coaches over several cycles.
0530: Teacher education