Standard P.4. Opportunities to Learn in Clinical Settings

A high-quality preparation program for beginning teachers of mathematics for upper elementary grades must include carefully designed and sequenced clinical placements with support structures for candidates.

The settings in which well-prepared beginning teachers at the upper elementary level learn provide supportive contexts for developing professional practices that integrate attention to students and their learning of mathematics content, including routine opportunities to see, engage in, and reflect on the mathematics teaching in real settings of practice. Mentor teachers who play roles in these upper-elementary-grades settings often are responsible for instruction across multiple subjects. Mentors of beginning mathematics teachers must routinely teach mathematics and be knowledgeable about mathematics content and pedagogy, portray productive mathematical dispositions, and open their mathematics teaching as a welcome forum for the learning of the candidates. Further, program representatives in upper-elementary-grades contexts who often are asked to provide support and feedback on the teaching of many subjects must routinely observe the mathematics teaching of the candidate as well as be knowledgeable about mathematics and portray productive mathematical dispositions.

Effective programs utilize a range of settings to provide a broad array of opportunities for candidates to learn to teach. Candidates need experiences teaching students individually, in small groups, and as a whole class; teaching diverse students, including students from many racial, gender, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds; and teaching students with special needs. Effective programs include opportunities for all upper-elementary-level candidates to teach mathematics during their student-teaching experiences. When candidates are placed in elementary schools that have departmentalized staffing, arrangements must be made for candidates to have opportunities to regularly plan, teach, and reflect on mathematics teaching.

Candidates also need opportunities to develop ways of working with and learning from parents, families, and community members/leaders so that they can teach mathematics in ways that draw on students’ knowledge and resources, that enhance the relevance of the mathematics taught, and forge productive partnerships that enhance education. Such opportunities could include after-school mathematics clubs, back-to-school events, school-wide mathematics nights and mathematics fairs, and home visits and should help candidates develop expertise.