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Supporting teachers in their implementation of mathematics instruction for understanding : the intermediate mathematics teachers’ inquiry group Martin, Janet

Abstract

Current reform ideas in mathematics education recommend that instruction focus on teaching all students to learn and understand mathematics, and make connections within mathematics and applications of mathematics. Implementation of these ideas requires teachers to make use of teaching practice that, for most of them, is different from their previous experience in teaching mathematics. Past attempts to implement lasting change in education through the legislation of new curriculum have not proven successful. In addition, professional development opportunities that offer isolated, one-time workshops have also failed to support teachers working towards change in their teaching practice. The Intermediate Mathematics Teachers' Inquiry Group (IMTIG), was a professional development model, designed to support teachers as they worked with mathematics reform ideas to improve their teaching practice and hence, student learning. The format of this project incorporated recommendations from other teaching learning communities, adapted to fit our local context. The study involved the participation of seven intermediate mathematics teachers and two university participants, who all met regularly over a period of four months. Teacher learning took place in two contexts: during group meetings and in individual teachers' classrooms. The community of support and collaboration that developed within IMTIG was a major reason for IMTIG's success. Participants valued the regular meetings with colleagues to discuss new ideas, and share experiences and resources. Group discussions dealt with issues related to mathematics reform ideas, and assisted teachers as they worked to adapt and implement IMTIG teaching practice in their classrooms. Upon completion of the EVITIG project, all participants indicated their willingness to continue using teaching practice related to mathematics educational reform. The role of the two university participants within EVITIG was to introduce new ideas to the group, to provide access to resources, and to help the group maintain a focus on the goal of improving mathematics teaching to best teach for student understanding. The two university participants in IMTIG played different roles within the group. One role was to share relevant resources and present IMTIG teaching practice, and the second role was to introduce ideas from research and theory and to encourage teacher reflection.

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