On Monday, May 7, 2018, The Hechinger Report featured a column on Deborah Ball’s AERA presidential address. In “20 judgments a teacher makes in 1 minute and 28 seconds,” Jill Barshay focuses on a small piece of video from an elementary classroom—just 88 seconds long—that Ball used in her address to demonstrate the many “discretionary spaces” teachers encounter every day and the ways that implicit biases and entrenched racism can affect teachers’ judgement and decisions in these spaces. Barshay summarizes the exchange between two students, Aniyah and Toni, in this way:
The actual classroom played out like a fairy tale. Loewenberg Ball publicly acknowledged the importance of Toni’s question. Aniyah explained her faulty reasoning a second time and it prompted a group discussion that clarified the interval confusion for most students. Toni was one of two students who went back up to the board to model how to locate a fraction on the number line and explain it. On the students’ exit tickets at the end of class, 25 out of 30 were able to answer correctly and explain their reasoning.
On Sunday, April 15, 2018, Deborah Ball delivered the presidential address at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Her talk, “Just Dreams and Imperatives: The Power of Teaching in the Struggle for Public Education,” focused on the enormous potential teaching has for contributing to the development of a just society and supporting the flourishing of historically marginalized groups—and the ways teaching instead often has reproduced inequality and reified injustice through the discretionary spaces that are inherent to teaching. Ball argued that working to make teaching a force that can regularly disrupt the injustices that persist in, and through, teaching practice requires facing and managing tensions between constraint and discretion, as well as between professional boundaries and autonomy. Her address represented one of Ball’s final responsibilities as the 2017–18 president of AERA.
Deborah Ball was recently featured on Oregon State University’s “Research in Action” podcast, a weekly podcast that focuses on topics and issues related to research in higher education. In her interview, Ball discusses her work as an elementary teacher, the persistent questions that led her to become a mathematics education researcher and teacher educator, and her ongoing efforts through TeachingWorks to raise the quality of beginning teaching.
The podcast is available here.
On Sunday, March 18, 2018, Deborah Ball served as the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor speaker at the University of Michigan's 95th Annual Honors Convocation. The theme of the convocation, “What Does It Mean to Be Free in a World Such as Ours?,” compelled the audience to consider questions such as: How does the desire for freedom intersect with civil and human rights, the pursuit of truth, and efforts to address pressing national and global problems? What roles might individuals, collectives, universities, and broader social movements play in the pursuit of freedom in today’s world?
The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), an international mathematics education association and part of the International Mathematical Union, has honored Deborah Ball by awarding her the 2017 Felix Klein Medal. This award, with which ICMI “honors the most meritorious scholars within the mathematics education community” for their lifetime achievement in mathematics education research, is named for Felix Klein, a leading mathematician at the turn of the last century who was distinguished as well for his pioneering contributions to school mathematics education.
Ball received the award “in recognition of her outstanding contributions and her leadership role in deepening our understanding of the complexities of teaching mathematics and in improving the practice of teaching and of teacher education.” In announcing the award, ICMI recounted Ball’s influential career by highlighting two main lines of work: her development of the theory of mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and her efforts to transform teacher preparation to focus on high-leverage practices that are central to the work of teaching.
The full award announcement is available here.
On Thursday, November 30, 2017, Deborah Loewenberg Ball joined Mitchell Daniels, president of Purdue University, John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Roger Ferguson, president and CEO of TIAA, and Michael McPherson, former president of the Spencer Foundation, in a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for the release of the final report from the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education (CFUE). The commission was appointed two years ago by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The charge to the commission was to assess the state of undergraduate education and make recommendations for a more equitable future with better institutions and better-positioned graduates.
In the panel discussion, Ball emphasized the importance of quality teaching to address inequities in the quality of undergraduates’ experiences on campuses, and how these relate to their success and completion rates. Urging colleges and universities to do more to support quality teaching at the postsecondary level, she called on higher education leaders to communicate to doctoral students and early career faculty members that, in addition to their scholarship and research, “a central part of what they are setting out to do is to become educators.” Ball also highlighted the need for a more diverse professoriate and the importance of supporting faculty members and leaders to learn ways of meeting the challenges of diversity in their classes and on campus. She signaled the importance of professional learning and of aligning the incentive and reward systems to value teaching.
The CFUE’s final report, The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America, is available here.
A story about the report from Inside Higher Ed is available here.
Video of Ball's remarks is available here.
On September 11, 2017, TeachingWorks released a statement on the executive order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The statement reflects on the importance of supporting “the 800,000 young people threatened by the prospect of deportation, and the teachers and educators who know, work with, and care for them.” It closes with an affirmation, a commitment, and a call to action:
TeachingWorks affirms the human rights of DACA children to the educational opportunities of our country. We will continue to support these young people by using public education as a lever for justice to disrupt inequality and promote social change. We ask you to join us in making quality education available and consistent for every child, and thus a force for making real the dream of a more just society.
Read the full statement here.
Deborah Ball is the director of TeachingWorks.
On August 18, 2017, Deborah Ball, in her role as president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), joined AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine in releasing a statement on the hateful acts in Charlottesville, Virginia, that took place on August 12, 2017. The statement reflects on the ways those hateful acts “make visible how White supremacy, racism, antisemitism, religious persecution, homophobia, and xenophobia continue to permeate our society, but also remind us of the critical importance of studying, analyzing, and broadly communicating about these patterns and structures.” Read the full AERA statement here.
TeachingWorks also released a statement condemning the hateful acts. That statement can be viewed here.
The 2017 Elementary Mathematics Laboratory (EML) will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan from July 31 to August 11. In this two-week program taught by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, approximately 30 children will work on complex mathematics—fractions (definitions, representations, placement on the number line), as well as reading, interpreting, and solving equations—and learn practices and techniques that include explaining, representing, proving complex claims, presenting in public, and listening to others’ mathematical ideas attentively, respectfully, and critically. The EML is structured to make it possible for educators, policymakers, and education advocates to engage directly in the close study of teaching practice. The unique laboratory setting provides participants with opportunities to delve into the complexity of teaching as well as develop specific professional skills.
Over the past decade, Deborah Ball has developed skills of teaching in public that enable observers to analyze teaching. This public teaching is the centerpiece of the EML professional development program. Workshop attendees start each day with Deborah and the instructional team in a “pre-brief” session before the class, in which they examine, discuss, and refine the day's lesson plans and strategies for the instruction. Attendees then observe the instruction in the classroom or remote viewing rooms. The group gathers after the class with Deborah to debrief the class, ask questions, and review daily student work before attending afternoon workshops.
For more information and to register, visit the TeachingWorks website.
On May 1, 2017, at the conclusion of the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting, Deborah Loewenberg Ball assumed her role as president of AERA. She succeeds Vivian L. Gadsden, William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
“I am honored to serve as president of AERA,” Ball said. “I am excited for the year ahead and look forward to the 2018 annual meeting at which we will consider the struggles over and the promises of public education. We will work to combine critical examination with positive action and hope, as we leverage the work of scholars in our field to realize the crucial role that public education can play in creating a just world. Working with my program chairs Carla O’Connor and Suzanne Wilson, I look forward to building on the work that Vivian Gadsden did in her term as president, as well as on that of others who have served in this position before us.”
The 2018 AERA Annual Meeting with be held from Friday, April 13, to Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in New York City and will focus on the theme, “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education.”