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Elevating the Preservice Teacher Voice in Our Math Community

September 5, 2018 / by Kristin Gray

I'm so incredibly thankful for my math community. As I engage in discussions with educators at work, at conferences, on social media, and in professional learning, I appreciate the diverse perspectives and experiences we each bring. In every conversation, I learn so much. And at the same time, I realize how much there's still left to learn. Even though we're all involved in math education from a wide range of positions, the one voice I've always wished to hear more from in our community is that of the preservice teacher.

I consider myself lucky to have amazing friends who work with preservice teachers on a daily basis. I have the opportunity to hear about all of the exciting mathematics they're doing in their courses and it makes me long to go back and relive my preservice teaching course experience. I can't imagine what it would've been like to have learned, and been exposed to, all of the ideas, resources, and networks that I currently value in my own growth and professional learning — before stepping foot in the classroom for the very first time.

While I enjoy hearing the stories from the course instructors, I'd really love to learn from a preservice teacher's point of view. So many questions run through my mind each time I get into a discussion about the preservice teachers' learning experiences, such as:

  • How are they thinking about the new things they're learning?
  • How do their new experiences compare to how they perceived teaching math?
  • How do the experiences impact their feelings about mathematics in general?
  • What takeaways and questions do they have?

All of these questions form the foundation for the Teaching Channel project I'm so excited to work on with my friend Crystal Lancour, an instructor for the Elementary Math Methods course at the University of Delaware. Throughout the fall, Crystal and I will document the journey of a class of preservice teachers as they're introduced to math activities, such as the ones in my Tch Math Routines series, and the instructional practices involved in their development and implementation.


VIDEO: "Tell Me Everything" Math Routines: Kindergarten 

It's our hope that through student blog posts, video reflections, and recording my visit to their class for a guest session on Number Talks, this project will elevate the voice of preservice teachers in our math community, give students opportunities to practice the difficult work of being a reflective educator, and offer everyone in the math community the chance to learn and grow together.

We'd love for others to be involved, so if you have access to preservice teachers and would like to learn alongside us, we'll first be gathering information on the students’ current feelings and perspectives on math and math learning. This is a copy of a survey Crystal will be giving to her students during the first week of class. Please feel free to make a copy and try it out!

Topics: Professional Learning, New Teachers, Coaching, Math

Kristin Gray

Written by Kristin Gray

Kristin Gray, a National Board Certified, 21-year veteran teacher of grades 5-8, is currently the Director of K-5 Curriculum and Professional Learning at Illustrative Mathematics (IM). She has served as a writer for the IM 6-8 math curriculum and as a Teaching Channel Laureate. Kristin has developed and facilitated mathematics professional learning at district, state, and national levels and presents annually at the NCSM and NCTM conferences. To reflect on her experiences, she blogs and connects with educators on Twitter, @MathMinds. Kristin has a B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics from the University of Delaware, a M.Ed. in applied technology in education from Wilmington University, and is the 2014 Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

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