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Tool 5: Rehearsing Routines—A Math Coaching Tool You Can Get Started with Right Away (Math Monday)

Posted by admin on May 22, 2023 4:24:35 PM

Highlighting Ideas from 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching by Nicora Placa

math monday with sh logo

In 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching, Nicora Placa offers readers step-by-step guidelines for rolling out collaborative coaching tools such as Lesson Study, Learning Walks, and Student Interviews. In this blog post, we focus on Tool 5: Rehearsing Routines.

When learning how to teach an instructional routine such as a Choral Count, Quick Image, Which One Doesn’t Belong?, or Numberless Word Problem, it’s helpful to read about the routine and watch a classroom video example. But what if you could go further and try out the routine with colleagues before facilitating it with students?

In her new book, 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching, Nicora Placa shares the following example of a fourth-grade team learning how to facilitate Number Talks:

What did you notice about the team’s rehearsal of the Number Talk? What benefits might rehearsing a routine have for you or your team?

Why Rehearse Routines?

Placa argues that rehearsing routines together has a number of benefits, including the following:

  • The team plans, practices, and gives feedback together, building a collaborative culture based in mutual respect.
  • Routines are bite-sized, so working on them feels manageable and incremental, rather than overwhelming.
  • High-quality instructional routines allow us to zoom in on students’ mathematical thinking together, as we anticipate student responses and figure out how to represent them.
  • Rehearsing and enacting routines supports teachers in making small shifts in practice that yield big results, and these shifts quickly spill out into the rest of the math block.

As Placa summarizes, “Both routines and rehearsals quickly become compelling for coaches and teachers because they allow us to zoom in on student thinking during our teaching. Teaching is so complex, and it can be hard to simplify it in a way that still honors the complexities of the work. The format of a predictable routine, however, allows us to foreground certain parts–like student thinking–and background others–like the structure and flow of the whole lesson. The routine still allows for complex questions and discussions to arise; it just narrows the focus of these discussions to a small slice of instruction” (2023, 118).

Planning Templates with Step-by-Step Guidance for Coaches

In 6 Tools, Placa provides practical supports for coaches or lead teachers who want to roll out collaborative coaching tools with teams of teachers, such as planning templates, classroom examples, facilitation questions, and connections to research. Whether you want to try out a new instructional routine or fine-tune the facilitation of an existing one, the Rehearsing Routines Planning Template can get you started.

Choosing an Instructional Routine to Rehearse

If you’re looking for a rich routine to rehearse together, you might choose one that’s embedded in your core or supplemental curriculum, or you can draw from the following list of routines that Placa recommends in 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching:


You can download the portions of the book referenced in this blog here. And you can learn more about 6 Tools For Collaborative Mathematics Coaching on our website. 

Until next time, may your Monday be mathematically marvelous!

3D 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching Cover


Topics: Math, #StenhouseMath