Bilingual teachers reflecting on mathematics teaching : what they notice about engaging children in problem solving



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Teachers are being asked to engage in ambitious mathematics teaching in order to reform children's mathematics learning, and it has proven to be challenging. Unraveling the challenges requires understanding the in-the-moment decisions that teachers make while teaching mathematics. The focus of this study is to understand teacher noticing, the ways in which teachers identify, reason about and make decisions in the situations that occur when engaging English language learners in problem solving. Specifically, I used the construct of professional noticing of children's mathematical thinking (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010) to investigate what three bilingual teachers notice as they participate in a teacher study group to analyze and reflect on their experiences in weekly problem solving small groups. What teachers noticed reflected attention to situations in which they struggled to understand children's mathematical thinking and attempts to direct students towards correct problem solving. Teachers' decisions and struggles in engaging children in problem solving also revealed a focus on the role of preparing English language learners be successful for standardized testing. However, looking at student's work in the teacher study group began to help teachers focus on children's mathematical thinking. Implications on continued understanding of teacher noticing, effective mathematics professional development and developing understanding of mathematics teaching to English Language learners are discussed.