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Self-portrait: A tool for understanding the teaching of mathematics

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In a course labelled “math methods” for preservice elementary school teachers, the focus is on constructivist philosophy and teaching as synonymous with research. The participants consciously view themselves as teacher-learners by continuously looking at their perception of self in a set of written responses: “Self-portrait as a Teacher.” Three of these self-reflections are collected over ten weeks. The data show that the initial stage is a general, often vague, perception and description of a mathematics teacher, reflecting the media portrayal of the necessity of mathematics in schools, followed by confusion and frustration of not knowing mathematics in sufficient depth to explain it to others. The final portrait shows some resolution of conflict and self-discovery in “doing” mathematics. In all, the practice of self-regulation becomes progressively more evident. Although teaching is acknowledged as a reflective practice, ways of facilitating the self reflection of preservice teachers are not widely known. The use of self-portraits brings out the profile of a learner, which helps provide individual and group preparation, and assists in building a learning community of teachers.

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Mukhopadhyay, S. Self-portrait: A tool for understanding the teaching of mathematics. Math Ed Res J 8, 101–118 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03217292

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  • Elementary School
  • Preservice Teacher
  • Mathematics Education
  • Mathematics Teacher
  • Reflective Practice