University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Developing Mathematical-Resilience-Promoting Practices in Teachers

Johnston-Wilder, S. and Moreton, Jane (2018) Developing Mathematical-Resilience-Promoting Practices in Teachers. In: ICERI2018 Proceedings. The International Academy of Technology, Education and Development, pp. 8228-8237. ISBN 978-84-09-05948-5

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The construct ‘mathematical resilience’ [1] was developed to describe a positive stance towards learning mathematics, that includes both persistence and perseverance [2], recruiting support when needed. Mathematical resilience can be engineered within both formal and informal learning environments by strategic, explicit focus on the culture of learning mathematics. A focus on ‘mathematical resilience’ enables learners to manage and protect themselves from unhelpful emotions, such as mathematics anxiety, that may arise when mathematics becomes difficult, as well as to recruit appropriate support. Mathematical resilience is not just something that learners do or do not have, it can be grown.
In a previous paper [3] we described working with Further Education (FE) teachers to engineer the growth of mathematical resilience in their practice. In this paper, we discuss the outcomes of a teacher Work Group focussed on building mathematical resilience (January to July 2018). Following previous work on growth mindsets with teachers local to Birmingham, UK, through their Maths Hub, work done locally with FE teachers [4,5], and the work of Clare Lee [6] with a southern UK Maths Hub, teachers were recruited to join a local Work Group called ‘building mathematical resilience’. The Work Group was advertised as ‘suitable for primary, secondary and FE colleagues at all stages of their professional education’. 16 teacher volunteers were chosen to take part on a first-come-first-served basis.
The Work Group focused on developing teachers’ awareness of affective barriers to learning mathematics, such as mathematics anxiety and avoidance, and how to develop more resilience in learners working on mathematics. Key concepts included: the hand model of the brain [7] to understand the impact of anxiety on thinking, the growth zone model [8] as a means to help learners understand and articulate their feelings when learning mathematics, and to promote mathematical safe-guarding, and some mindfulness techniques to trigger the relaxation response [9] if a learner begins to experience anxiety. Teaching for resilience also involves teachers developing in learners: a growth mindset; willingness to struggle (persistence); knowledge of how to work at mathematics when stuck and how to recruit support (perseverance); understanding of the meaning, value, personal relevance and purpose of mathematics.
Based on Dylan Wiliam’s components for effective teacher learning communities, in which all teachers embrace the idea of continuous improvement, the local Maths Hub adopts an approach in which teachers collaborate to change their practice with: Choice, Flexibility, Small steps, Accountability and Support. The Work Group was organised as four face-to-face sessions combined with membership of an online community and pre-reading. The four sessions were: an introductory day of input, group learning and action planning; two twilight sessions of feedback, new learning, and personal action planning; a feedback day, sharing evidence of impact, evaluation and reviewing, and of beginning preparation for a joint publication to share the work with other teachers. This structure enabled the session leader to optimise teacher self-efficacy by sharing mastery, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, encouragement and positive affect. In the paper, we discuss the outcomes.
Keywords: mathematics anxiety, learned helplessness, mathematical resilience, teacher learning communities, action research

Item Type: Book Section
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Paper submitted to ICERI2018, the 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation to be held in Seville (Spain) on the 12th, 13th and 14th of November, 2018.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: mathematics anxiety, learned helplessness, mathematical resilience, teacher learning communities, action research
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Jane Moreton
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 09:34
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2022 10:04

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