Exploring elements of a hypothetical model of mathematics teacher planning

Year: 2012

Author: Sulivan, Peter, Clarke, David, Clarke, Doug

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The Peopling Education Policy project team developed a survey exploring aspects of the ways that teachers use the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics (AC:M) to inform their planning, pedagogies and assessment. Responses from over 600 teachers have been analysed and implications for supporting teachers in ways of using the AC:M have been considered. Based on the survey responses, a hypothetical planning schematic has been developed to model teachers' planning processes. This paper describes the elements of the model and in particular explores an element that may be problematic for teachers. The particular element suggests that, at some stage, teachers examine the specific statements of the AC:M, and then select tasks that will assist their students in learning the content proposed by the curriculum.

The initial survey invited teachers to match AC:M content descriptions with hypothetical classroom tasks. The content descriptions presented to the teachers were chosen because they appeared to be clear and unambiguous. Likewise, we chose tasks whose point was considered to be obvious. The responses of teachers to the survey, taken at face value, indicate that while some teachers interpret the potential of the tasks and the content descriptions the same way as the project team, there are many teachers who do not. It seems that anticipating the potential of tasks and interpreting the meaning of curriculum content descriptions, and matching the two, is complex.

In seeking to elaborate challenges associated with articulating the purposes implied by content descriptions and matching those with classroom experiences prompted by mathematics tasks, the project team is working with both primary and secondary teachers in schools exploring the processes of planning mathematics teaching. This paper will present the analysis and interpretation of survey responses, interviews, and documents to indicate the extent to which teachers find the AC:M helpful in identifying the focus of their teaching and the processes teachers use to support students in learning that content.

The findings have implications for the structure of both initial and practising teacher professional learning associated with the implementation of the AC:M.