Mrs. Hobbs's fourth graders are struggling. And it is working. This year, instead of teaching the state standard on unit conversion by showing students a procedure to follow, Hobbs asked her students to work in groups to develop a method. She is excited to promote more reasoning, problem solving, and use of varied solution pathways, in line with the NCTM's Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All (2014). This is worthy work. But in some moments, for some students, the struggle does not feel productive. Several students are hesitant and lack confidence. A few give up easily. Hobbs does not want to go back to telling students a procedure, but she does not want to leave them to flounder.
Jen Munson, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a doctoral candidate in teacher education at Stanford University, a coach and professional developer, and a former elementary and middle school teacher. She is interested in teacher-student discourse in elementary school mathematics classrooms and how instructional coaches can promote teacher learning.