Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 105–128 | Cite as

Caring teaching practices in multiethnic mathematics classrooms: attending to health and well-being

  • Robin Averill
Original Article


Factors that contribute to strong teacher-student relationships are vital to understand because of the influence these relationships have on achievement and motivation, particularly for minority group students. This article draws from a substantial quantity of empirical data, grounded in a wide theoretical and cultural base, regarding aspects of caring teacher practice to discuss mathematics teacher behaviours in relation to an existing model of health and well-being that encompasses cognitive, social, spiritual, and physical dimensions. Drawing from 100 Year 10 mathematics lesson observations involving six teachers and their classes across three urban schools, evidence emerged that for many indigenous (Māori), New Zealand Pacific, and New Zealand European students, caring teacher behaviours important for student engagement and achievement both include, and range beyond, traditional teaching practices. Examples include capitalising on student reactions and shared endeavours within the context of mathematics learning, expecting mathematical progress, showing respect for students and for their mathematics learning, being explicit about practice and expectations, incorporating one-to-one interactions, making opportunities within mathematics learning for sharing personal identities, and incorporating movement. This research illustrates how mathematics educators can attend to the specific and holistic mathematical learning needs of their students, including those often marginalised.


Mathematics Care theory Equity/diversity Social and cultural issues Indigenous 



The author wishes to thank Megan Clark, Herewini Easton, and Fuapepe Rimoni for their careful and wise advice throughout this study.


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Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education Policy and Implementation, Faculty of EducationVictoria University of Wellington, Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a MāuiWellingtonNew Zealand

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