Confidence in teaching numeracy and mathematics - Education Matters
Professional Development

Building confidence in teaching numeracy and mathematics

building confidence in teaching numeracy and mathematics

Professor Chris Walsh from Victoria University and Dr Leicha A. Bragg of Deakin University have co-developed a free new resource for teachers that aims to enhance pedagogical knowledge and skills in the fields of numeracy and mathematics; and build confidence in teaching numeracy.

High-quality online education and professional development for teachers should be freely accessible. Our stance compelled us to propose the design of an open educational resource (OER) to the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET). OERs consist of freely available online teaching and learning materials that can be used and utilised by anyone without charge. OERs allow teachers to study online from anywhere in the world and provide access to high-quality resources to support evidence-based practice in their classrooms. Growth in teachers’ professional learning in turn, improves students’ learning.

The demand for teachers with sufficient numeracy pedagogical knowledge and skills is high. However, at times, existing numeracy teacher professional development programs struggle to develop pre-service, in-service and returning teachers’ professional foundations in numeracy teaching and learning. Often one-off professional development programs happen after school or during teacher release time. This approach does not provide enough time for teachers to learn sufficiently about evidence-based practices or sustained time to reflect on their learning to empower their professional growth.

The internet is inundated with educational resources for teachers across all subject areas. For many educators, the sheer volume of online educational resources makes it difficult to find the ‘right’ resource to demystify the teaching and learning of key concepts, specifically in mathematics. To overcome this challenge, we designed the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide OER.

Our OER is a six-week micro-course for pre, in-service and returning teachers. It is designed to help educators build confidence in teaching numeracy and mathematics to become a more proficient numeracy teacher. The OER’s learner-centred activities provide numerous opportunities to draw on evidence-based best practice, such as High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS), to maximise their students’ opportunities for numeracy learning. Additionally, the ‘Numeracy at Home’ module provides teachers with strategies to successfully encourage families to foster numeracy problem-solving and investigations through everyday activities.

The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide OER has the potential to significantly enhance teachers’ professional learning and connect them to DET’s numeracy teaching resources. A key resource the OER draws on is the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide. In 2018, we led on the design of Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide for DET. It is a curated collection of dynamic approaches to developing student numeracy across three stages of learning: Birth to Level 2; Level 3 to Level 8; and Levels 9 and 10. In our conceptualisation of The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide we took specific steps to ensure its numeracy teaching resources where aligned with the Victorian Curriculum, VEYLDF and all DET initiatives.
The design of the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide OER and the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide explicitly draws on the principles of heutagogy. Heutagogy is a form of self-directed learning grounded in a learner-centred approach that focuses specifically on the learner and what is learned.

The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide OER and the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide are engaging, inspiring and motivating online teacher professional development resources. They are simple to navigate with videos introducing weekly topics that present evidence-based strategies that are easy to implement in the numeracy classroom. These online resources have a specific and intentional focus on teacher’s reflective practice, presenting opportunities for working in collaboration with peers to plan for a cycle of continuous improvement. The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide OER’s practical design aims to build educators’ confidence in the teaching and learning of numeracy and mathematics, thus supporting children and young people’s numeracy growth.

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