Teaching Problems: A Model of Teaching Practice

This is the last in a series of posts on Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching, by Magdalene Lampert. In each chapter, Lampert examines the one challenge of teaching in the context of her fifth grade math classroom, and I try to learn some things from her.

I am finishing this book without a great deal of concrete takeaways. Instead, I am a little bit more thoughtful about the different challenges in teaching. If reading Lampert has a positive influence on my teaching, it will be because I am more reflective and better able to learn from my failures in class each day, and more thoughtful when I encounter new problems.

I’d like to finish with Lampert’s visual model of teaching practice:


There are three players involved — the teacher, the student, and the content. My job is to facilitate the student’s practice in learning content, and I do that through my relationship with content, my relationship with the student, and my relationship with the student’s practice of content. Then there is a great deal more complexity when the lens zooms out to consider groups and classes of students.

I like this perspective because, in my view, it simplifies the practice of teaching without stripping away the complexity. It is a relatively straightforward set of relationships, yet each of those arrows involves dozens of decisions each day.

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