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Lenses on Learning—Mathematics Professional Development for School Administrators Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Lenses on Learning (LOL) is a 30 contact-hour leadership development course that teaches participants to make observations for learning in standards-based mathematics classrooms.
Designed by the Education Development Center (EDC) in Newton, MA, LOL classes are conducted in accordance with EDC’s training protocol and in conjunction with its national study of Lenses on Learning.  During project Year 5, 61 school administrators from partner districts and seven project Facilitators completed the course.  To date, 127 school administrators and project personnel have received the Lenses on Learning professional development through NC-PIMS.  The participants represent ten of the NC-PIMS district partners.  During summer 2007,  the Lenses course will be provided to school administrators in Brunswick School District in which the majority of its principals in K-8 schools will participate.

  • Lenses on Learning helps instructional leaders focus on mathematical thinking and reasoning, posing problems, problem solving, and discourse that enhance and extend students’ mathematical knowledge during classroom observations.  By focusing teachers’ attention on the thinking and reasoning of students, teachers must consider: (1) their own mathematical content knowledge; (2) the tools they use to represent the mathematics; and (3) the effectiveness of instructional tasks in advancing students’ mathematical content knowledge and ability to apply it.


  • Participants in the Lenses on Learning course spend time engaged in: (1) thinking about and “doing” mathematics; (2) observing students engaged in the same mathematical task; and (3) making observation notes about the: (a) mathematical content knowledge of students and teachers, (b) students’ learning as related to the teachers’ instructional decisions; and (c) quality of the classroom’s intellectual community.  They also document how the teacher facilitates the intellectual community by setting the tone, supporting students, and intervening to maintain a focus on mathematics.


  • Principals and school administrators who are currently participating in Lenses on Learning sessions express an understanding of, and commitment to, standards-based instruction and the value of the course for affirming different ways to approach the same problem.  As one elementary principal stated, “My way of doing math has never been valued before participating in the course.  When I return to my school, I will observe to see if teachers value student’s ways of learning mathematics as a way to address the diverse students in the class.” Survey results of the participants continue to indicate an overwhelming positive response to the relevancy of the course and the impact that is anticipated on principals’ practices in observing the mathematics lessons of their teachers.


  • Participating principals see the value of observing for learning rather than just observing for teacher behaviors.  They report that the Lenses on Learning experience has changed their post-conferences from a focus on “what’s right and what’s wrong” to important discussions about what mathematical learning occurred for the teacher and the students.  They express belief that these discussions will help principals understand how to support learning for the teacher and the students and how to improve teaching and learning.  The principals document ways to integrate this approach into the existing and required evaluation procedures.  They also articulate ways Lenses on Learning principles and practices can facilitate the achievement of school improvement goals.

A LOL session at Fayetteville State University, October 26 2006



For more information on the Lenses on Learning program, please visit the EDC website. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 April 2007 )
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Facilitator White Papers


NC-PIMS Facilitators examine an array of topics and challenges within contemporary Mathematics Education and strategies for providing quality mathematics professional development to educators.

Click here to explore the Facilitator White Papers. 

NC-PIMS is a comprehensive partnership initiative awarded to the University of North Carolina General Administration by the National Science Foundation, Award No. EHR-0226877 and the US Department of Education, Award No. S366A020001. Opinions expressed within the website are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of UNC-GA, the NSF or the US DOE.

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