PMET: Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers


There is more intellectual content in school mathematics instruction

than most realize, content that teachers need to understand well.”


“All mathematicians should be concerned about teacher education,

and all have a role to play in the mathematical education of teachers.”


                                                --MET Report


A growing set of national reports calls for better preparation of the nation's mathematics teachers by mathematics faculty. To help meet this need, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has a multi-dimensional program: Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers (PMET).


The PMET minicourse at the Allegheny Mountain Section meeting on April 1 at Slippery Rock University is a snapshot of the full-length workshops to be held in the Summer of 2005.  In the minicourse, we will examine the PMET philosophy, review a tentative agenda for an elementary and a secondary workshop, experience a sample activity that has been used with preservice teachers, review some pertinent literature, and answer questions about the PMET workshops.


PMET is a program designed to assist faculty who currently train, or are interested in training, both pre- and in-service teachers. The philosophy of the program is guided by the recent CBMS report, The Mathematical Education of Teachers (MET).  The central activity of PMET is an extensive series of summer workshops for college and university faculty. During Spring and Summer 2005, PMET will offer eight new workshops for college and university faculty who teach mathematics courses taken by prospective teachers. Each workshop will focus on preparing teachers for elementary, middle, or secondary school mathematics. Participants will observe demonstration classes, providing an opportunity to learn about the mathematical thinking processes of students preparing for careers in teaching. Participants will examine how pre-service teachers learn mathematics, how they make sense of mathematical ideas, and how they integrate their knowledge of mathematics into their thinking about teaching. Participants will also have opportunities to share ideas, discuss and learn more about appropriate content and effective ways of helping pre-service teachers learn mathematics. They will explore specific topics including the use of technology and statistics education in school mathematics.


Summer Workshop activities include:

Ø  Connecting college mathematics content to school mathematics;

Ø  Demonstration college classes by master teachers;

Ø  Discussions of school standards, both state and national;

Ø  Course development projects by participants;

Ø  Guest lectures by experts, including learning theory researchers;

Ø  Discussions of curricular materials and educational reports; and

Ø  Use of technology.


With the increased need for mathematics teachers, and the need for well-prepared mathematics teachers, it is clear that the education of prospective teachers is of great importance.  Many faculty members are being asked to take on increased responsibilities in this area without substantial background or training in teacher education.  The contributions of both mathematicians and mathematics educators are critical if we are to improve the quality and quantity of mathematics teachers in K-12 education. The workshops build on the MET recommendations and other recent reports including the 2001 NRC report, Adding It Up, Liping Ma’s 1999 book Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, the NCTM Standards 2000, and several others.


MET Report Recommendations:


  1. Prospective teachers need mathematics courses that develop a deep understanding of the mathematics they will teach.
  2. Although the quality of mathematical preparation is more important than the quantity, the following mathematics coursework for prospective teachers is recommended:
  1. Courses on fundamental ideas of school mathematics should focus on a thorough development of basic mathematical ideas.  All courses designed for prospective teachers should develop careful reasoning and mathematical “common sense” in analyzing conceptual relationships and in solving problems.
  2. Along with building mathematical knowledge, mathematics courses for prospective teachers should develop the habits of mind of a mathematical thinker and demonstrate flexible, interactive styles of teaching.
  3. Teacher education must be recognized as an important part of mathematics departments’ missions at institutions that educate teachers.  More mathematicians should consider becoming deeply involved in K-12 mathematics education.
  4. The mathematical education of teachers should be seen as a partnership between mathematics faculty and mathematics education faculty.
  5. There needs to be greater cooperation between two-year and four-year colleges in the mathematical education of teachers.
  6. There needs to be more collaboration between mathematics faculty and school mathematics teachers.
  7. Efforts to improve standards for school mathematics instruction, as well as for teacher preparation accreditation, and teacher certification, will be strengthened by the full-fledged participation of the academic mathematics community.
  8. Teachers need the opportunity to develop their understanding of mathematics and its teaching throughout their careers, through both self-directed and collegial study, as well as through formal coursework.
  9. Mathematics in middle grades should be taught by mathematical specialists.



Additional information about PMET and about workshops for Summer 2005 can be found at and in the articles