A new approach to understanding teachers’ classroom practices

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Lyla Alsalim


Teaching is generally considered a complex practice that involves the constant and dynamic interaction between the teacher, the students and the subject matter. One of the main goals of most education reform initiatives has been to change teachers’ classroom practices. Most recent reform curricula focus on highlighting teacher practices that promote and evoke students’ understanding alongside the changes in content (Tirosh & Graeber, 2003). Changes to a teacher’s role that are included in the education reform movement call for more research in order to understand and theorise teachers’ classroom practices. In this paper, I will present patterns-of-participation (PoP) as a promising framework that aims to understand the role of the teacher for emerging classroom practices. Instead of relying on a traditional approach to understanding classroom practices by analysing teachers’ beliefs, this framework applies a participatory approach to look for patterns in the participation of individual teachers in many social practices at the school and in the classroom. Some of these practices are directly related to the teaching and learning of mathematics while others are not. And some of them relate to communities that are not actually present in the classroom or at the school. PoP views teachers’ social interaction in a certain community as a piece which is influenced by other pieces of social interactions. In every interaction, the ‘pieces’ shape a ‘fluctuating pattern' that shows the shifting impact of different, previous practices and the dynamic relations between them (Skott, 2010; 2011; 2013).


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Alsalim, L. (2014). A new approach to understanding teachers’ classroom practices. SFU Educational Review, 7. https://doi.org/10.21810/sfuer.v7i.375