The National Science Foundation’s Mentoring Mentors Matters project

Preparing Mentors to Support Novices in Eliciting Student Thinking in Mathematics Discussions

TeachSIM is partnering with researchers at Boston University and the University of Michigan to design online, portable mentor teacher professional development (PD) materials, including simulations and coaching supports, that target mentors’ teaching and feedback skills in elementary mathematics.

This work is essential for many reasons, including the following:

  • Mentor teachers (termed mentors), provide the most immediate and enduring influence on how candidates teach (Smagorinsky et al., 2006). However, elementary classrooms continue to be dominated by teacher-centered exchanges in which students provide brief, immediately assessed responses (Cohen, 2015, 2018; Kane & Staiger, 2012) that fail to position students as sense-makers (Kazemi & Stipek, 2009).
  • Robust professional development (PD) opportunities for mentors are scarce (Feiman-Nemser et al., 1993; Grossman, Ronfeldt, & Cohen, 2011). In order to model the ambitious teaching practices advocated in mathematics education research and to provide actionable feedback to candidates on such practices, mentors likely need PD as both teacher learners and as teacher educators (Matsko et al., 2020).
  • Several recent studies suggest that an effective mentor during student teaching can greatly accelerate candidate development, leading to more instructionally effective early career teachers (Goldhaber et al., 2018; Matsko et al., 2018; Ronfeldt, Brockman, et al., 2018; Ronfeldt, Goldhaber, et al., 2018; Ronfeldt, Matsko, et al., 2020), who are far more likely to teach historically marginalized and minoritized youth.

Using a randomized control trial with mentor-candidate pairs, we will investigate the causal impact of the PD materials on both mentors’ teaching and feedback skills, as well as candidate’s teaching skills. We will also observe the mentors’ uptake and transfer of the practices from the PD materials, to the simulations, to live classrooms and mentoring conversations.

Development of the mentor PD materials and assessments will occur throughout the 2022-2023 academic year.

See TeachSIM PD: Math: Preparing Mentors to Support Novices in Eliciting Student Thinking Partners here.

The Mentoring Mentors Matters project is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2200915. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.