Examining Beliefs and Practices of Self and Others: Pivotal Points for Change and Growth for Mathematics Teacher Educators

April 2012

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 8, No. 1, April 2012, 51–68
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This self-study had two purposes. First, the authors were interested to examine their own beliefs and belief structures, including how these beliefs influenced their instructional practices. Second, the authors were interested to explore possible commonalities across their personal findings that could be identified as fundamental beliefs for all mathematics teacher educators that in turn might serve as tools for others’ growth.

The participants were the six authors of this paper. They are mathematics teacher educators who completed doctoral work at the University of Georgia between 2000 and 2004. All of them have taught prospective teachers; some have also taught practicing teachers.

Data were collected personal narratives, belief maps, emails, and artifacts of practice that provided insights into individual participants’ meanings.

The authors identified four common fundamental beliefs about mathematics teacher education which they shared and which were instrumental in further examination of their own beliefs and practices: (1) mathematics is problematic and generated through sense-making; (2) a community of learners enhances learning; (3) mathematics teacher educators need to be explicitly aware of the learner in different contexts; and (4) teaching is complex at all levels.

They also argue that the self-study affected each of them differently in terms of changes to our practices. For instance, autonomy was a central idea in map of one of the authors. The impact on her practice was directly related to new ways to foster autonomy in her teaching. Another author’s map articulated the importance of listening to students. The changes in the author's practice related to listening more carefully to her prospective teachers and encouraging her prospective teachers to listen more carefully to their students.

Through conversations with trusted colleagues, each of the authors was able to visualize a better practice. For example, one participant identified learning to teach as a core part of his belief map. He extended this idea further as he considered ways to focus cooperating teachers’ attention on the student teacher as learner and to make the goals of his teacher education program more explicit to prospective teachers.
In conclusion, the authors propose self-study as one approach for tapping into mathematics teacher educators’ practitioner knowledge to create a professional knowledge base for mathematics teacher educators. They argue that efforts such as these help their profession demonstrate that the knowledge required to teach teachers is indeed a specialized knowledge domain that warrants continued investigation.

Updated: Sep. 05, 2018