I need your help. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the GVSU Department of Mathematics is looking at canceling two courses this fall semester. Teaching Middle Grades Mathematics [MTH 329] is required for undergraduates interested in teaching secondary mathematics (though some inservice teachers take it as part of adding an endorsement in mathematics to their certificate). Secondary Student Issues [MTH 629] is part of a College of Education's Masters of Education program. Because of the importance of these two courses to their respective planned programs, we are considering alternatives to canceling them.
One option is to combine the two courses in some way. This is of particular interest to me because of past successes with preservice and inservice teachers collaborating in MTH 329. As I said, we sometimes get inservice teachers taking this course for an endorsement, and I always try to include their perspective when discussing the realities of teaching and learning. I also connected 329 students with inservice teachers two years ago when a scheduling conflict meant that I needed to be teaching and conducting professional development at the same time. Participants report that the combined effect of preservice teachers' enthusiasm and inservice teachers' experience has been beneficial.
All I need to do is come up with a proposal for how the combined course might work. My colleague, John Golden, and I sat down this morning to develop a draft, but I recognize that our plan would benefit from your feedback. Here's the idea:
Essentially, the content addressed will remain unchanged for MTH 329. The undergraduates in this course learn what it means to do, learn, and teach mathematics in the middle grades. In their course portfolio, they demonstrate their fluency of middle school-level mathematical content, their competencies in teaching and learning middle grade mathematics, and their ability to engage in their own learning.
Graduate students enrolled in MTH 629 will continue to focus on issues in teaching and learning secondary mathematics, but this will extend to mentoring the preservice teachers in mathematical pedagogy. The mentoring will involve supporting the undergraduates in the assessment and analysis of middle grade learners’ mathematical thinking and the design and implementation of mathematics micro-lessons. The graduate students’ portfolio will document their mentoring efforts, their results from an action research project, and their ability to engage in their own learning.
MTH 329 will meet from 6 to 7:50 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. MTH 629 will meet from 6 to 8:50 on Tuesdays. During the 6 to 7:50 overlap on Tuesdays, the class time will focus on developing a taken-as-shared understanding of pedagogical concepts through demonstrations, classroom dialogues, and collaborations. From 8 to 8:50 on Tuesdays, MTH 629 students will concentrate on aspects of effective mentoring and conducting action research that focuses on the artifacts of teaching (lessons and assessments). On Thursdays, the MTH 329 students will focus on the middle grades mathematical content typically addressed in this course.
It is my hope that this structure will help both groups to recognize that they can contribute to the positive development of the teaching profession. I want them to understand that they can improve teaching without having to wait for some outside force to tell them what that improvement would entail. In other words, I want to provide an experience that provides them with phronesis.
So what do you think? I really value your input in designing this combined course. Thank you in advance for your support.