As the Early Math team moves forward in our work with preschool teachers, we are in the process of collecting data not only on the children’s mathematics development, but also the teacher’s growth in pedagogy and content. In an effort to document these changes we are in the process of completing midyear teacher interviews. While the questions somewhat mirror the initial interviews we completed in September, we have added new questions in an effort to give opportunities for the teachers to share their growth as mathematical learners and as teachers of mathematics. In this blog entry, I would like to share with you some of the highlights from the interviews I have conducted.
One theme that permeated most interviews surrounded the following question: “Since the beginning of the year, have your math goals for children stayed the same or changed?” Overwhelmingly, teachers shared how their goals have indeed changed. Some teachers expressed that since working with the AIMS Center they have seen a shift in their teaching to a more purposeful level. ”Working with you has really helped me to understand it [math] better and better apply it….as I understand it better I can teach it better.”
Another theme that became apparent was prompted by watching videos of student interviews. This past September we completed selected student interviews. These interviews included tasks such as asking children to say their number words, count a linear set of items, and identify shapes. At a recent professional learning session we included watching the videos as a way for teachers to engage in analyzing the mathematical progress of the children in their classrooms. In the teacher interviews, many teachers noted a difference in children since the beginning of the year. Teachers described how certain children made progress in their confidence level, others made progress in their language ability, and all children, as indicated by the teachers, have made progress on the extent and accuracy of their number sequence.
Finally, teachers were asked “Think about the professional learning sessions we have had this year. What has been most beneficial for you?” Many teachers noted that they have appreciated the hands-on activities that they have had the opportunity to engage in. Some also mentioned how these opportunities have increased their confidence, given them more ideas to engage students, and have helped them to see math in different ways they did not know existed. Teachers also shared how the sessions have broadened their view of how math can be fun. One teacher commented, “I feel that you have pushed me to be more creative in my mathematics teaching.” In our professional learning sessions we have seen teachers be highly engaged as learners of mathematics and embrace every opportunity to grow as professionals. We have also seen teachers reflect the care they have for their children in a commitment to become better teachers of mathematics. This is an encouraging outcome and it has been inspiring to hear them express these thoughts.