Making sense of student mathematical thinking: The role of teacher mathematical thinking
In mathematical whole-class discussions, teachers can build on various student ideas and develop these ideas toward mathematical goals. This requires teachers to make sense of their students’ mathematical thinking, which evidently involves mathematical thinking on the teacher’s part. However, the role of teachers’ mathematical thinking in making sense of their students’ thinking has yet to be thoroughly explored. Conceptualizations of what it is that teachers need or do to interpret and support their students’ mathematical thinking are mostly based on a view of teacher ‘knowledge’, which does not do justice to the mathematical ‘work’ or ‘activity’ of the teacher.
In the 2018-2019 school year, five higher secondary school mathematics teachers and me collaborated in the project ‘Klassengesprekken in de wiskundeles’ (whole-class discussions in mathematics lessons). The setup was based on design research, in the sense that between two group meetings, each teacher designed, enacted, and evaluated one discourse-based lesson and we collaboratively and iteratively developed ‘handreikingen’ (guidelines) for discourse-based teaching. An important aspect of the group meetings were video-based discussions, in which we reflected on video-segments of the teachers’ whole-class discussions. I regularly paused a video after a student utterance, and asked the teachers to discuss what could happen.
In this seminar, I will report on one of the studies in my PhD project. In this study I analyzed segments of the video-based discussions in which the teachers were making sense of students’ articulated thinking, and I focused on the role of the teachers’ mathematical thinking in their sense-making.