Teaching mathematics can be challenging, especially for new teachers. Having the support of a mentor can ease the pressure when a new teacher attempts to balance the demands that accompany teaching. Empowering the Mentor is a compilation of articles that offer support by addressing the issues of new teachers and their mentors. Dr. Eula Monroe of the Department of Teacher Education at BYU offers her expertise in her article "Mentoring Teachers in Standards-Based Mathematics Education: A Visual Framework." Her article has been included in three separate volumes of Empowering the Mentor.
In her article Monroe draws from her experiences as a teacher at both the elementary and university levels to construct a visual framework on which to build the "house of mathematics." A successful house or classroom needs to be built on the broad issues of equity, curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, and technology. Monroe notes that while successful classrooms may have the same foundations, they can look quite different. She includes in her framework three major areas of teacher concern: curriculum and mathematics content, instructional pedagogy, and assessment. Mentors should help new teachers focus on all three of these areas.
Monroe also urges educators to remember that the house of mathematics needs to have heart. She urges educators to put children's thinking at the center of the mathematics teacher's practice. She elaborates, "Any decision making regarding curriculum, instruction, and assessment should be based on knowledge of the mathematical thinking of our students and made with the goal of further promoting that thinking."
Monroe encourages mentors to fight the natural inclination to teach new students exactly the way they were taught. Instead, she encourages mentors to help new teachers develop their own personal images and representations. Monroe urges teachers to allow those they mentor to develop their own representations to improve their teaching.
Monroe's article will challenge readers to rethink what mentoring means and help them to be more effective at mentoring. Her article is sure to have a positive influence on mentors, new teachers, and classrooms nationwide.
17 July 2009