Indicator P.4.4. Recruit and Support Qualified Mentor Teachers and Supervisors
An effective mathematics teacher preparation program ensures that mentor teachers and supervisors are able to effectively use clinical settings to support candidates in teaching mathematics well and provide equitable support to each and every student.
Clinical experiences are crucial in supporting the development of beginning teachers who can skillfully do the work of mathematics teaching. Quality clinical experiences provide candidates with scaffolded opportunities to develop skill with teaching practices, insight into mathematics content and into students as learners of that content, and professional orientations and commitments. The quality of these learning opportunities hinges on the support of mentors and teacher preparation supervisors who ensure that candidates are actively leveraging those clinical experiences to learn key knowledge, skills, and dispositions for teaching mathematics (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2009; Grossman, 2010). In effective programs, mentors and supervisors provide candidates with regular opportunities for critical reflection on mathematics teaching and learning.
Effective mentor teachers know mathematics, model effective mathematics teaching practices, and demonstrate professional commitment to the learning of each and every student. Similarly, supervisors of mathematics candidates have had substantive and successful experience teaching mathematics. They know the mathematics and pedagogical practices that are essential for a well-prepared beginning teacher of mathematics. Further, they know how to utilize the affordances of clinical contexts to support teacher learning. Mentors are willing to use their own teaching as a site for the beginning teacher to learn. They co-plan and co-teach to provide focused support during instruction and regularly provide constructive feedback. Supervisors have command of teacher preparation practices that support the integrated attention to students, content, and teaching practices necessary for skilled engagement in teaching and learning contexts (Lampert et al., 2013).
Effective mentors and supervisors of mathematics teachers promote understanding of the context within schools, helping beginning teachers of mathematics recognize the roles that administrators, parents, and communities play in supporting the mathematics learning of their students. Mentors and supervisors understand the importance of advocating for equitable mathematics learning and can communicate this stance in concrete ways to teacher candidates. For example, a mentor or supervisor might ask a candidate to reflect on how a particular pedagogical move might connect with or affect students’ mathematical identities or to reflect on the effects of school structures (e.g., classroom design and resources, tracking or scheduling) on student learning.
An effective mathematics teacher preparation program provides organizational structures that support effective mathematics teaching. They recognize that strong partnerships between teacher preparation programs and schools enhance the instruction of beginning teachers (Grossman, Ronfeldt, & Cohen, 2011; Zeichner & Gore, 1990) by connecting the goals and substance of what candidates are learning through their preparation program and the everyday mathematics learning in Pre-K–12 settings. Programs ensure that those involved with candidates have ongoing professional development in coaching and mentoring to support their skills at supporting candidate learning. Program mentors, supervisors, and instructors have ongoing opportunities to collaborate and communicate to ensure that teacher candidates receive clear and consistent messages about effective mathematics teaching.