Teacher and coach, side by side: Specifying the coaching structures and moves that support the learning of elementary mathematics teachers during instruction
Jen Munson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Northwestern University

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
Changing the mathematical learning opportunities for students is critical for promoting equitable outcomes and deep understanding of mathematics. However, the demands on teachers to reimagine mathematics teaching and learning in ambitious ways have not been matched with sufficiently robust and effective professional development. Coaching is a promising, but underspecified, platform for supporting teacher learning. This study will investigate a novel coaching activity, side-by-side coaching, in which a coach and teacher co-participate in mathematics teaching, discussing and addressing problems of practice as they emerge in the moment. Theoretically, this approach draws on communities of practice, framing teacher learning as a shift in participation with the coach present to support such changes directly. In an earlier study, side-by-side coaching was shown to support teacher learning of ambitious mathematics instructional practice. The proposed study will (1) identify the activities the coach and teacher engaged in during side-by-side coaching, (2) identify discursive moves used repeatedly by the coach during these activities, and (3) connect activities and discursive moves to teacher learning, leading to a model of effective side-by-side coaching. This work contributes to effective coaching models to support teacher learning of ambitious practices, making both side-by-side coaching and its components replicable in new contexts. The ways in which the coach-teacher dyad collaborate to support teacher learning may offer other partners, such as teacher peers or student teacher-mentor teacher pairs, promising new ways to closely study the emergent problems of practice when they emerge, during instruction.
About Jen Munson
Jen Munson is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University?s School of Education and Social Policy. Her work focuses on how interactions between mathematics teachers, students, and teacher educators can support learning. Her recent research has focused on the ways the teacher discourse following shared experiences of pedagogy can support the development of adaptive expertise, and how teacher-student interactions in the midst of collaborative problem solving can co-construct the advancement of student thinking. Recent publications have appeared in Journal of Mathematical Behavior, Journal of Educational Psychology, Phi Delta Kappan, and Mathematics Teacher Educator. She is the author of In the Moment: Conferring in the Elementary Math Classroom (Heinemann, 2018) and the co-author of the Mindset Mathematics curriculum series (Wiley, 2017 ? 2020). A former elementary and middle school classroom teacher and mathematics coach, she received her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education and Teacher Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2018.

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