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Chapter 6: “I Have Gotten Braver”: Growing and Sustaining Critical Mathematics Pedagogies Through a Teacher Community of Praxis

by Emma Gargroetzi, Izzy Hendry, Angela Jeffreys, Andrew Patel, Gina Wei & Critical Mathematics Teachers Collaborative - 2021

Background: Mathematics education is not often identified as the locus of radical social change work, with these topics assumed instead as fodder for social studies or language arts lessons. As such, teachers of mathematics can struggle to find avenues for their commitments to social and educational justice in their mathematics teaching spaces.

Purpose: This study examined the practice and experiences of 10 math educators participating in a voluntary teacher learning community focused on critical pedagogies and math. The purpose was to identify the core learnings and challenges made possible through this learning community.

Setting and Participants: The Critical Mathematics Teacher Collaborative (CMTC) consists primarily of preservice and early career K–12 teachers, all of whom teach math and seek to develop their own math teaching practices through frameworks of critical pedagogy and social justice. An informal, nonhierarchical learning community, CMTC uses a cycle of critical reflection and action: We read and discuss theory to inform visions for critical mathematics teaching, and we workshop participant-designed lesson plans to support moving from vision to action.

Research Design: The study was collaboratively designed among members of the group as a self-study. Bidirectional interviews were conducted among 10 participants, transcribed, and analyzed.

Conclusions: Four core insights were identified. Participating teachers (1) desired to be able to engage in critical work in mathematics teaching spaces, (2) were nurtured by accountability to a community that supports putting ideals into practice and continuing to examine these ideals, (3) benefitted from praxis—having a space to connect theory to the practices of daily classroom teaching, and (4) provided ally-ship to each other in the face of challenges to teaching for social justice, shaping not only their mathematics teaching but also teaching in spaces beyond mathematics. Examples of critical mathematics pedagogies in action in the classrooms of participating teachers are included, as well as appendices with readings and a sample agenda for use by teachers wishing to model a learning community of their own after this one.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 123 Number 13, 2021, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23740, Date Accessed: 9/21/2021 9:42:11 AM

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About the Author
  • Emma Gargroetzi
    University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    EMMA GARGROETZI, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow of STEM education and assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. She researches identity, agency, and power in mathematical learning. Recent publications include “Examining the role of off-task participation during collaborative problem-solving in elementary mathematics” in Journal of Education Psychology, and “‘Dear future President of the United States’: Analyzing youth civic writing within the 2016 Letters to the Next President project” in American Education Research Journal.
  • Izzy Hendry
    Paul Revere K–8
    E-mail Author
    IZZY HENDRY is a Spanish-language dual immersion teacher at Paul Revere K–8 in San Francisco, California. She has a master’s degree in education from Stanford University. Izzy enjoys coaching the volleyball team, participating in lesson study, and developing experiential and nature-based curriculum.
  • Angela Jeffreys
    Public School Teacher
    E-mail Author
    ANGELA JEFFREYS currently teaches second grade at a Title I public school in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She previously taught fourth grade. She completed her teaching credential and master’s degree in education through the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP). She is passionate about equity in education, especially in elementary mathematics.
  • Andrew Patel
    San Francisco Unified School District
    E-mail Author
    ANDREW PATEL is a third-grade general education teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. Andrew focuses on classroom community, student’s self-understanding, and meaningful field trips. Andrew recently developed Earth science lesson plans as a Teacher Ranger Teacher at Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • Gina Wei
    Public High School Teacher
    E-mail Author
    GINA WEI is a secondary mathematics teacher at a public high school in Philadelphia. Before living in Philadelphia, she taught in San Jose, California. She has been teaching since 2017 and received her master’s degree in education at Stanford University.
  • Critical Mathematics Teachers Collaborative
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    Critical Mathematics Teachers Collaborative (CMTC) is a student-run organization founded in 2016, funded by the Graduate School of Education’s Collaborative Learning Fund. CMTC continues to be facilitated and sustained through the work of pre-service teachers and doctoral students associated with the Stanford Teacher Education Program.
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