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Patterns in the Noticing Practices of Exceptional Secondary Mathematics Teachers

Sun, April 6, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Convention Center, Floor: 100 Level, 125


We draw on the work of Hand (2012, 2013) who proposes a model for teacher noticing for equitable mathematics instruction. She identifies several features of mathematics instruction through which students from non-dominant backgrounds “took up space” (p. 237) that promoted their success in mathematics classrooms. First and foremost among these is the use of reform mathematics pedagogy in classroom instruction. As Boaler & Staples (2008) assert, inquiry-based instruction provides an opportunity for students to exercise agency over their mathematical sense-making. Additional features that invite a range of students to exercise these forms of agency include Promoting Dialogic Space (Bakhtin, 1981), Blurring Distinctions (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005), Assigning Competence (Cohen & Lotan, 1997), and Reframing the System (Hand, Penuel, & Gutiérrez, 2012). For each component, she articulates particular teacher noticing moves that empower students from dominant and non-dominant racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds to have opportunities to engage with rigorous mathematical work and develop identities as mathematics learners and thinkers.

In this session, we present preliminary findings from a one-year study in which we observed six mathematics teachers who were identified as exceptional mathematics teachers in urban contexts in two different states. Nominations for the participants were solicited from local mathematics teacher educators and school district personnel. Teachers were observed and videotaped in one of more of their classrooms over the course of a semester. Teachers reflected on clips of the videos with researchers and were prompted to describe what they were attending to in the classroom in relation to specific instructional moves. They also had the opportunity to stop the video to share something important to their noticing with the researchers. These “noticing interviews” took place the day of or the day after the videos was taken. Finally, the teachers each watched a set of professional video clips and hypothesized about the noticing practices of the classroom teachers they observed.

We describe our findings in terms of patterns in teacher noticing that reflect different teachers’ dispositions toward equity in mathematics teaching and learning. We present variations across the six profiles of the teachers’ noticing for equity and describe how the teachers’ goals for student learning and the nature of the schools and classroom contexts influenced the ways that they attended to students throughout instruction.