Skip to Main ContentCOE HomeSDSU Home

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mathematics Teacher Noticing: Seeing through Teachers' Eyes selected for Exemplary Research in Teaching Award

Mathematics Teacher Noticing: Seeing through Teachers' Eyes
Mathematics Teacher Noticing: Seeing through Teachers' Eyes edited by Miriam Sherin, Victoria Jacobs, and Randolph Philipp selected for the Division K Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education Award.

The committee unanimously agrees that this collection of essays provides a timely, powerful and detailed examination of the work of teachers. Every day teachers confront complex challenges, which require them to respond in novel ways. How we prepare teachers to notice and make sense of these challenges, and the tools we have to do so is front and central to the fields of teaching and teacher education.

The Sherin et al volume addresses the artificial separation of teaching from learning that occurred in the 1970's. The conceptual framework of "noticing" marks the re-integration of the relationship of teaching and learning and frames how teacher's teach in the context of learning when they learn where to look, what to look at, how to make sense of what they see, and how this stance is critical to supporting student learning as well as how to develop a learning as well as student-responsive approach.

This fourteen chapter text explores the construct of teacher noticing, and its potential for understanding the nature of teaching. The book is organized around three core ideas:

    What, when, and how of teacher noticing,
    the development of mathematics teacher noticing over time, and
    effective methods for influencing teacher noticing.

Together these chapters advance the conversation on teacher practice and teacher development, and provide guidance to the field for ways to improve practice through the everyday work of teachers. As Dr. Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon (the book’s nominator) aptly states:

    What is key, in my opinion, is that a focus on teacher noticing is associated with a particular stance towards teaching, a stance that draws our attention to phenomena that have received relatively little attention. At the heart of this stance is an image of the teacher-in-action as being confronted by a “blooming, buzzing, confusion” of events — that teaching requires being aware of and making sense of the complex interactions unfolding in the moment. Embracing this stance towards teaching opens the door to new research paradigms and methodologies, and to examining the nature of teaching in new and productive ways.

While the idea of teacher noticing is not new – in fact the very first chapter of the text by Fred Erickson points this out – a framework for making sense of how, why and when teachers notice is new, and transformative. Where do teachers look? What do they see? How do they make sense of what they see? These questions drive this work. These are the same questions that help to fill current gaps in the knowledge base of teaching and teacher education. These authors powerfully demonstrate how these questions help to make visible what is often taken for granted or assumed natural in teaching. The committee concurs that the conceptualization of noticing in this text has the potential to transform not only mathematics education but also more broadly impact how we prepare and support teachers (preservice and in-service).

With meaningful attention given both to the craft of teaching and the field of teacher education, the committee agreed that the text is highly relevant across subject domains. After reading and discussing this text, we found ourselves intrigued by ideas and wanted to try them out with our preservice teacher candidates.

Deborah Ball, in the foreword for the book, captures the committee’s view with her statement: “To identify noticing as a central practice of the essential work of teaching is a fundamental contribution to the challenge of decomposing practice for the purpose of making it learnable (Grossman et al., 2009). This book opens and unpacks this construct, tracing its foundations and scope and displaying insights garnered from studies of teacher noticing. It offers both language and frameworks for making more precise the study of teaching practice and the resources needed for its skillful enactment”. Well stated for a book that is well done!