School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education:
5. In-class mentoring for accelerated pedagogical improvement
"As teachers, we talk a lot about how to make sure the kids know that we’re also learners, because it does help with their confidence in learning to know that the teachers are also learning. The things I like about Bronwyn herself (in-class mentor) is…she’s local, she knows the community so therefore she knows the context of our maths. She’s quick to pick up what needs working on…" Teacher
"They're very receptive and open to feedback…the next time I go back I can tell that they have been working on that and then it's 'OK, well that's great, don't get too comfortable now, because we're going to move onto the next step'. So, it's gentle pressure all the time, but they're great. They're up for that." In-class mentor
"Instead of feeling like a teacher who had to perform to tick some boxes, you're now actually using the person to bounce things from and get their input and want it. You're looking for it because you see such a change in the way you've taught maths." Teacher
"I get so much learning out of just seeing how teachers are teaching, and how they're approaching DMIC, and what they're thinking and what the challenges are for them." In-class mentor
"It was very difficult. It was like changing your whole pedagogy; the way you've taught for the last twenty years. And it is a struggle for anyone and I honestly take my hat off to them." Board Chair
An innovative model in-class mentoring is critical for integrating the DMIC theory and practice.
The in-class mentor has a constructive role in supporting teachers to change a range of well-intended business-as-usual practices that outcomes-linked evidence reveals to have negative effects on children's learning (e.g. labelling, sorting, ability grouping, reducing opportunity to learn, providing insufficient mathematical challenge, leaving silent, and "othering"). Such change starts from the first in-class session. The 'pause' in classroom practice is the point of dissonance, reflection and change.
Professor Bobbie Hunter and Dr Jodie Hunter select the in-class mentors who will undertake the wider implementation of DMIC. In-class mentors are selected because they have demonstrated effective implementation of DMIC in their own practice as teachers, and they demonstrate the ability to work effectively both with diverse adult learners and children. As with teachers the practice of the in-class mentors is videoed and analysed to inform ongoing reflection and improvement.
Those selected as in-class mentors are required to continue their own professional learning through ongoing postgraduate study and applied research. In-class mentors model and/or support translanguaging.
Access to DMIC in-class mentoring for at least two sessions per term for each teacher is required to support the complexity of change required.
The in-class mentoring function in DMIC requires proficiency in working with school leaders also so that they are able to understand the nature of the change, what is being achieved, what requires further support and what is needed for strategic resourcing of next steps.
At Russell School a child interviewed about their perspective on the in-class mentoring and the 'pause' process explained "everyone's a learner".
See the video on the Russell school perspectives on In-class mentoring for accelerated pedagogical improvement