What makes master mathematics teachers?

It is not overstating to say that the MasterMT project has a sea of data, as briefly described in the video presentation that we just posted on YouTube:

Miao, Z., Bokhove, C., Reynolds, D., & Charalambous, C. Y. (2023). Studying Master Mathematics Teachers: Aims & Design (e-Presentation). YouTube @MasterMathematicsTeachers.

Yes, indeed, we have a lot in the data bulk:

Miao, Z., Bokhove, C., Reynolds, D., & Charalambous, C. Y. (2023). Studying Master Mathematics Teachers: Aims & Design (e-Presentation, Supplement A). YouTube @MasterMathematicsTeachers.

Teaching and learning were analysed quantitatively in multiple spheres and dimensions and modelled systematically in multiple models. The modelling results have almost all agreed to what we hypothesised, even when controlling for student background variables, such as age, gender socioeconomic status (SES).

But we didn’t know at first that the most impressive findings would come from the most unexpected parts of data: the qualitative analyses of lessons, the longitudinal case study, the interviews, the PD trajectories, and PD in action, etc.

In this post, we wanted to write a little on the PD trajectories data: why we collected it and what was the striking message it conveyed on the macro level.

The longitudinal case study was carried out in 2018, and the major classroom data in five provinces were collected in Spring 2019. Over the course of analysing the data, we wondered what had led to the educational excellence amongst these teachers’ students and the professional excellence amongst themselves. The teaching and learning data could certainly address the root of the former kind of excellence. However, the teacher questionnaire and interview could only give us some but not complete explanations to the latter kind of excellence: the professional excellence.

Apparently, these teachers were all once novice teachers who have managed to grow into master teachers.

Yes, but how?

In Spring 2020, we decided to collect further data from the teachers. We sent out invitations and asked them to write about their professional development trajectories – what makes them master teachers and what kinds of PD events they had taken part in from January 2018 to the point of the invitation (April 2020). It was at the peak of the pandemic, everything went online, adding unexpected challenges and burdens to teachers’ daily work, so we did not expect many responses. Still, 38 teachers managed to do it, with many others wanting to though unable to make it. In total, we have received 69,903 words written by the 38 teachers. We have to admit that the PD trajectories materials carried powerful messages from the moment we started to read them.

With details to be shared with you in our forthcoming book (Miao, Bokhove, & Reynolds, 2023), publications, events and blogs, all we can say now is that this extraordinary group of mathematics teachers took the bottom-up approach from the school through district, municipal, provincial and system levels, seeking every opportunity that the readily available professional learning communities had to offer and in time making themselves the master of mathematics teaching. They are now feeding back to the profession, leading the learning and development of their junior peers, whilst still teaching with a beginner’s heart.

Integrating all the quantitative and qualitative findings, we are confident that

any math(s) teacher in any country can become a master mathematics teacher

only with the right effort, path and support, to which we have detailed answers that are built on robust and rich research evidence.

What makes master mathematics teachers?