An effective mathematics teacher preparation program attracts, nurtures, and graduates high-quality teachers of mathematics who are representative of diverse communities.
Our youngest children deserve teachers who feel passion for mathematics. In recruiting high-quality teacher candidates at the early childhood level, program personnel seek out individuals who enjoy the study of mathematics and look forward to the teaching of mathematics. Admission requirements include multiple measures of not only cognitive factors (e.g., mathematics course grades, mathematics test scores) but also dispositional factors. Through interviews or essays, personnel can identify individuals eager to learn effective methods for teaching mathematics as well as uncover implicit biases or deficit views of diverse children and families and such dispositions to avoid mathematics as “I was never good at math” or “I’m just not a math person.” Applicants to early childhood education programs often view themselves with strengths in literacy and weaknesses in mathematics. Preparation programs can change these views by disseminating contrasting views of the joy and intellectual stimulation that early mathematics education provides to both teachers and children and by developing candidates’ knowledge and skills in mathematics and mathematics education. Programs can use both cognitive and dispositional factors related to mathematics to inform both admissions and program planning decisions, for example, identifying and building supports that contribute to the short- and long-term successes of their teacher candidates in teaching mathematics to young children.
Teacher retention is a challenge, especially retaining teachers of the youngest children. As described in Chapter 3, successful recruitment and retention strategies include field experiences that provide positive experiences with high-quality mathematics education in both preschool and the primary grades, scholarships specific to teaching mathematics to young children, clear foci on the integrated and active-learning approach so effective with young children, and career counseling in early education. Teacher education programs monitor the early career progress of their graduates to inform program improvement as well as to contribute to the retention of teachers.