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Evaluating Mathematics Teachers' Professional Development Motivations and Needs

Abstract

"While there is widespread agreement that one-size-fits-all professional development (PD) initiatives have limited potential to foster teacher learning, much existing PD is still designed without attention to teachers' motivations and needs. This paper shows that the strengths and weaknesses of middle school mathematics teachers that engage in PD may significantly vary. We present three representative cases that illustrate this diversity. The cases were selected from a cohort of 54 grades 5-9 mathematics teachers in the northeastern United States. The results show that: 1) these three teachers dramatically differed in their motivations and self-perceived needs regarding mathematical content, classroom instruction, and student thinking; 2) their perceptions were closely aligned with the results of our own assessments; and 3) the motivations and needs of these three teachers reflected the general trends identified in the cohort of 54 teachers. We conclude that "giving teachers voice" is essential when designing and implementing PD."

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