Teachers’ Circles Support Mathematical Thinking

Based on an idea that started at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) in 2006 and with its roots in the National Science Foundation-funded GK–12 SUPER-M project, Math Teachers’ Circle of Hawai‘i (MaTCH) was launched this year with a four-day event at the Bishop Museum. Described by co-principal investigator Linda Venenciano as “like a book club for people who enjoy doing math,” the Math Teachers’ Circle (MTC) program is a large and growing network of groups from around the country designed to engage middle school math teachers in mathematical problem solving and involve them in an ongoing dialogue. In a typical session, the group spends about two hours working on a problem and about one and a half hours discussing mathematical behaviors as presented in the Common Core Standards. Following the summer kick-off, regular monthly meetings for the 2011–2012 school year began in the fall. A grant from the ESEA Title IIA program and collaboration with the Hawai‘i Department of Education allowed the program to expand their activities and offer stipends and PD credits.

A recent study on the effect of the MTC program on teachers found that MTC had enabled teachers to see themselves as mathematicians. Teachers cited the professional community created by the circles as a valuable aspect of their participation.