Research has shown that reform-based instruction focused on solving nonroutine mathematics problems positively impacts low-income students’ learning opportunities, participation, and identities. Working in groups, discussing mathematical ideas, and engaging in rich whole-class mathematical conversations seem to promote interactions that challenge the invisible role usually played by this student population within mathematics classrooms. Nevertheless, learning to implement this type of mathematics teaching in urban school settings is a difficult endeavor for teachers. In these contexts, teachers’ practices are strongly mediated by the social representations of their students that materialize in low expectations. In this paper, I explore a high school mathematics teacher’s learning process to enhance the participation of his students while solving nonroutine problems. Using the notion of reflective practice, the teacher had the opportunity to critically think about his own learning experiences. The results evidence the complexity involved in implementing reform-based mathematics instruction in urban school settings and the critical role played by deeply rooted stereotypical representations in his process of learning and opportunities to change his teaching.
Keywords:Problem solving – In-service mathematics teacher education – Urban schools – Stereotypes Representation