Lenses on Learning:
A New Focus on Mathematics and School Leadership
By Catherine Miles Grant, Barbara Scott Nelson, Ellen Davidson, Annette Sassi, Amy Shulman Weinberg, Jessica Bleiman
This modular course addresses a number of issues of importance to administrators as they seek to support Standards-based mathematics instruction in their schools and districts. Each module contains sufficient material for 3-5 class sessions of three hours each. Modules include:
Module 1: Instructional Leadership in Mathematics
This four-session module provides a broad overview of the fundamental ideas about mathematics, learning, and teaching on which Standards-based mathematics education is based. It gives administrators the opportunity to sort out their initial thoughts and reactions to these ideas and to begin to consider their implications for their own work. Participants have the opportunity to: do mathematics together; explore how children’s mathematical thinking develops by examining student written work and by viewing a clinical interview with a student; think about the nature of Standards-based instruction and how it differs from a procedural approach to mathematics education. They also consider some of the norms and values that are embedded in Standards-based mathematics education and how these connect to school and district culture, and to their own leadership roles.
Module 1 – Instructional Leadership in Mathematics – Published by Pearson
Module 2: Teacher Learning for Mathematics Instruction
This five-session module provides administrators with the opportunity to explore the topic of professional development in their schools. They consider what teachers need to learn — about mathematics, making sense of children’s understandings, and facilitating discourse to further mathematical thinking — in order to facilitate substantive mathematical learning for children in the classroom. Administrators discuss what makes for meaningful professional development for teachers, and are introduced to a variety of ways in which teachers might best be supported to re-conceptualize their mathematics teaching. Administrators explore what kinds of support, beyond extending opportunities to take part in professional development offerings, are necessary for teachers who are deepening their practice of teaching mathematics. They consider how a culture of critical colleagueship, in which teachers engage with each other in substantive and intellectually critical examinations of learning and teaching, might support learning in schools. And they discuss some of the tensions that are inherent in attempting both to respond to individual needs, and in trying to reach all teachers within a school or district community.
Module 3: Observing Today’s Mathematics Classroom
This four-session module provides administrators with the opportunity to develop an “eye” for Standards-based elementary mathematics classrooms through watching and discussing videotapes of classrooms in transition. Participants’ own mathematical investigations inform their thinking about the mathematics classes in which they observe. Special attention is given to how teachers interact with children to facilitate the development of their mathematical thinking. Participants are also asked to consider what approaches to post-observation conferences with teachers might be most constructive, given that teachers are active constructors of their own knowledge about mathematics, learning and teaching.
In each module participants read and discuss articles focusing on various aspects of mathematics, learning, and teaching. They do mathematics together; engage in small-and whole-group discussions; watch and discuss videotapes that reveal children’s mathematical thinking and the nature of standards-based classrooms; examine samples of children’s mathematical work and excerpts from teachers’ professional journals; discuss the challenges of their own administrative practice; and write in their journals. They also carry out guided assignments in their schools related to the ideas explored in the course. Participants form an intellectual community among themselves as they reflect on a range of new ideas and consider the implications of these new ideas for their practice as administrators and instructional leaders.
Funding for the development of this course was provided by the National Science Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The course has been pilot tested in the Boston area and field tested nationally. It is currently available from Pearson Learning.