The Makings of a Mathematics Teacher

Project: The Makings of a Mathematics Teacher

In this project, we investigate the development of student teachers', mathematics teachers', and mathematics teacher educators’ professional identities before and in the first few years after their graduation or transition. In longitudinal, qualitative studies, we seek to understand how teachers' engagement in their teacher education programmes or in social practices and beyond their schools relate to changes in their professional tales of themselves and in their contributions to classroom practice.

Project information

Project manager
Andreas Ebbelind
Other project members
Hanna Palmér, Danai Dafnopoulou, Jeppe Skott
1 Jan 2010–31 Dec 2023 (manager Jeppe Skott)
1 Jan 2024–ongoing (manager Andreas Ebbelind)
– Mathematics Education (Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Technology)
– Pedagogics and Educational Sciences (Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of  Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

The research interest in teachers’ identities has grown in mathematics education and beyond. It has been fuelled not least by concerns for why teachers leave the profession and why teaching-learning practices promoted by curricular documents and programmes for teacher education (TE) or professional development (PD) may not find their way into school classrooms.

Mathematics teaching is conducted under multiple pressures. First, current reform proposals prioritise mathematical processes such as investigations, communication, and reasoning. This requires the teacher to continuously assess the students’ experiences and pre-understandings, to interpret the academic and cognitive potential of their suggestions and conjectures, and to adjust her/his support to individuals and groups of students accordingly. Second, the socio-political context may involve a very different educational discourse. This leads to teacher autonomy, giving way to accountability. Finally, local school and classroom cultures add to the complexities of instruction.

All this puts pressure on the acts of teaching and the development of teachers’ professional identities, not least in the first few vulnerable years after their graduation. It may lead to low job satisfaction and retention rates and poor instruction quality. The project attempts to document and understand the variability in how teachers react to this situation.

In doing so, we mainly use a framework called Patterns of Participation (PoP). At one level of analysis, PoP seeks to understand what role other practices and discourses (e.g. reform recommendations, collaboration with colleagues, theoretical parts of the teacher education programme) play in the teacher's contribution to the interaction in particular teaching and learning episodes. At another level, we use the framework to look across individual episodes and point to trends and developments in the teachers' contributions to the practices that evolve in mathematics classrooms.

International collaboration

In our endeavour to develop our understanding of the transition between different social practices, we have a long tradition of collaborating in different ways with other internationally recognised scholars. Tracy Helliwell has since 2019 collaborated with one of the project members and they are now currently, long-term, following teachers who are in the transition to become mathematics teacher educators.

Sonja Lutovac collaborates with the scholars in this group in several different ways. She is currently one of the editors of a special issue concerning identity development that was initiated by professor Jeppe Skott. Several group members have made academic exchanges, visiting the University of Oulu, and Sonja Lutovac has also visited Linneaus University.  

In the past, Despina Potari has been a guest professor at Linnaeus University and also, during this period of time, co-supervised doctoral projects.        

The project is part of the research in the Mathematics Education research group and the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Education in Change.