BYU Mathematics Education department invited Dr. Signe Kastberg from Purdue University to give a colloquium on March 29 on relational teacher education. Dr. Kastberg’s research interests are in mathematics teacher education, specifically relational practice including exploring and illustrating listening, trust, care, and empathy, and the ways in which these sustain and motivate student-teacher collaborations.
“What we are trying to do was to foster interactions that help others and ourselves to grow, and there will be reciprocal interactions as we make ourselves vulnerable to others [the students] and showing who we are as a person, and then we will feel responsible for contributing to the growth of each other,” said Dr. Kastberg at the colloquium. .
According to Dr. Kastberg’s research, relationships have been identified as foundational in professional education including mathematics teacher education. Relational mathematics teacher education is presented as lens for mathematics teacher educators seeking to improve practice.
“Mathematics teaching and learning is building a university for me to learn as much as I can. So when I am in the classroom with my students, I desperately try to learn … how they are thinking about things, and how that can change the way I am thinking,” Dr. Kastberg said.
Dr. Blake Peterson, the chairman of Mathematics Education Department who also attended the colloquium said that the biggest takeaway for him is to be reminded how important it is to have charity towards the students.
“Dr. Kastberg was talking about empathy and focusing on developing the relationship with students, and I felt that when I know the students more, I can better understand how they see the mathematics, and have conversations about teaching based on where they are not where I am.” Dr. Peterson said.
Dr. Kastberg not only shared her research on relational teaching, but also met with each graduate student in the department to discuss their research projects. “We had her meet with each of the grad student individually, learning about their research, and bouncing off ideas and getting them to think about things that they haven’t thought about on their projects, which is very helpful for the students to receive constructive feedback from a professor outside of the school,” Dr. Peterson added.
The department tries to conduct two colloquiums each semester to bring professionals from other prestigious universities to share their research and insights on mathematics education with the faculty and students.