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How can mathematics educators benefit from professional learning?

It’s helpful for teachers to develop a shared image of what instruction looks like in mathematics. Classroom videos are really helpful; when teachers are preparing to teach a module, they are making sense of the standards for that module, they’re looking at the learning arc for that module, they’re seeing how concepts are linked to procedures within that module.

So when we plan for instruction, we should plan collaboratively if we can; we should plan by first making sense of the mathematics for teaching, using tasks that support understanding for students, and then devise the structure of questioning to engage students.

What does a learning mindset look like in a mathematics classroom?

Mindset for students, learning mindset, is “I can learn.” If we give students the opportunity to learn, they’re more likely to do so. So, we give them opportunities by providing really good tasks.

We give students tasks without giving them the direction to solve those tasks, but we provide the tasks at the appropriate time. We don’t tell them how to think about the task, so they have the opportunity to experience what it feels like to learn.

When students experience learning, they have pride in that, which helps with their mindset. “I can learn. I know I haven’t learned everything, but I know I’m capable.” To me, that’s a learning mindset.

Why and how should mathematics educators encourage student discourse?

Students are more likely to do the sense making when they get to talk about the mathematics. And so, we support teachers to help students facilitate this discourse.

We support teachers with questions for students to use with other students, with teacher conversation strategies, and with meaningful routines to develop language. This way, each and every learner, including our English learners, has the opportunity to engage in the mathematical discussion. 

What should access and equity look like in mathematics classrooms?

When we think of equity and access, we can’t only think about our learners who struggle. We also have to think of our learners who need more of a challenge.

So we’ve addressed each and every learner in the tasks that we use, the grouping we suggest, and the supports and questions and scaffolding that we provide for the teacher. We have supports for the learner who struggles so that student can still engage in meaningful mathematics.

Read the complete Q&A at hmhco.com/DixonQA