Standard P.3. Opportunities to Learn to Teach Mathematics

A high-quality preparation program for teachers of mathematics at the upper elementary level provides opportunities for them to learn to teach mathematics by participating in well-designed, mathematics-specific methods courses.

Effective programs include coursework dedicated to the development of content-specific practices, techniques, and habits of mind or dispositions that support sound mathematics teaching. The demands of teaching and learning of mathematics in the 21st century require at least one mathematics methods course focused on upper elementary grades to fully prepare new teachers with strong foundations for success. Given the goal of educating teachers of mathematics who are well-prepared, the often-challenging nature of initial teaching assignments, and the breadth and depth of practices and dispositions needed, programs that provide certification to broad grade-bands (such as Pre-K–5 or K–8) ensure that candidates have more than one mathematics methods course. At the same time, we acknowledge that differences in the designs of teacher preparation programs will shape the ways in which this goal is achieved. As a field, we need to subject these approaches to appropriate scrutiny to ensure that program candidates are actually well prepared.

Effective methods courses include opportunities for teacher candidates to engage in mathematics, learn about students' mathematical thinking and solution strategies, identify and integrate students' lived experiences and funds of knowledge into mathematics lessons, learn various pedagogical strategies discussed in Chapter 2 and use assessment to build on students' understandings and support and extend their learning.