Changing How We Teach: One Teacher's Journey to Change Her Practice

Emily Magee, University of Pennsylvania


Despite research suggesting the importance of centering students and focusing on deep conceptual understandings, direct instruction and step-by-step procedures remain common in mathematics classrooms nationwide. For this self-study, I embarked on a year of striving to change how I taught. I documented that process through a reflective journal, and that journal and other artifacts together provided an intimate look into that experience and the associated challenges. I analyzed the interactions that occurred in my classroom between the teacher, the students, and the mathematics, with special attention to the teacher’s knowledge, beliefs, and emotions. My own experience was characterized by misalignment between teachers, students, and mathematics. This misalignment resulted from efforts to change and led to a lot of negative emotions. My experience was also impacted by the challenge of balancing many complementary and competing factors and practices. Despite being an intimate look at my own experience, my findings offer broader suggestions as well. Specifically, they suggest that change must be aligned and coherent throughout the entire system, that this kind of teaching must truly center students and prioritize relationships, and that the emotional side of teaching must be recognized and supported.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Educational evaluation|Instructional Design

Recommended Citation

Magee, Emily, "Changing How We Teach: One Teacher's Journey to Change Her Practice" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28652150.