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One in-service teacher education programme in mathematics: rewards and challenges


Maria de Lurdes Serrazina, Escola Superior de Educação de Lisboa, Portugal




In-service teacher education, Teacher knowledge, Primary mathematics, Classroom practice


Teachers’ knowledge is an important factor on the effectiveness of mathematics teaching and learning. Primary teachers, as mathematics teachers, have to have an integrated knowledge of mathematics, a knowledge of how pupils’ mathematical understanding develops, and a repertoire of pedagogical practices that take into account the mathematics being taught and how pupils learn it. In order to achieve that teachers have to continue to learn by participating in teacher education programmes that promote their professional development.

Since school year of 2005/06 we are developing in Portugal a national in-service programme in mathematics for primary teachers. This was created by Ministry of Education, centred in teachers’ schools and carried out by pre-service teacher education institution throughout the country. The programme puts an emphasis on classroom practice.

The goals of the programme are: (1) to promote a deeper mathematics, didactic and curricular knowledge of teachers, according to current curricular guidelines; (2) to promote the implementation of experiences of curricular development in mathematics; (3) to develop a teachers’ positive attitude towards mathematics; (4) to promote partnerships between schools and the teacher education institution of each region; (5) to provide each school cluster with specialists in mathematics teaching; (6) to create and disseminate national materials for teaching mathematics at this age level.

This is an innovative programme with a great emphasis on teacher development and represents a radical change of in-service teacher education in Portugal. At odds with tradition this programme has a classroom component, that is, there are in group sessions (groups with 8-10 teachers) where the planification of particular contents of mathematical knowledge takes place, followed by an experimentation in classroom supervisioned by the teacher educator and then reflection about practice carried out by teacher and teacher educator. This reflection happens also in group session with other members of the group and focus on what teachers learn from practice to become better mathematics teachers.

In this lecture I will describe the principles of the programme and discuss some progresses and results, as well as the main challenges and rewards after three years of the programme.