Responsive Math Teaching (RMT) supports districts, schools, leaders, and teachers to implement inclusive and equitable teaching practices into K–8 classrooms. RMT is built around four core components:

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What is Responsive Math Teaching?


Responsive math teaching (RMT) is instruction where the teacher continuously elicits information about what students currently know and understand and responds in ways that move them forward in relation to developmental and grade-level mathematical goals. This occurs throughout the instructional cycle, which includes:

A simple model shows Launch (whole group), Facilitate Productive Struggle (individual/small groups), Discuss Learner Thinking (whole group), Return to Mathematical Goal, Reflect (teacher preparation), and Plan. A cog in the center of the graphic shows Learner, Mathematical Goal, Community.

  • Selecting and launching cognitively demanding tasks that are open to multiple entry points and solution strategies;
  • Engaging students in productive struggle, discourse, and collaboration;
  • Having students share strategies and defend their solutions;
  • Building connections and deeper and more sophisticated understanding of core concepts, strategies, and procedures;
  • Collecting formative assessment information to inform instruction.

Recognizing what students know and are able to do and leveraging that to move towards higher level reasoning and problem solving ensures equity and access to mathematics for all students. When the teacher responds simultaneously to student thinking and a mathematical goal, each and every student is recognized as a capable learner who can develop deep, meaningful, and flexible understandings.

Professional Development

The RMT professional development model has three phases.

In the first phase, teachers EXPERIENCE responsive math instruction as learners and reflect on that experience in relation to facilitation practices.

In the next phase, teachers learn about, try out, and TEACH with new instructional practices while engaging in grade-level (and sometimes cross-school) COLLABORATIVE LESSON DESIGN groups.

Some teachers and teacher leaders may elect to move on to the LEAD phase, where they learn to plan and facilitate Experience, Teach, and/or Collaborative Lesson Design professional development sessions.

Experience to Teach, Teach to Lead ArrowsExperience Responsive Math Teaching as a learner, reflect on that experience in order to understand how to teach responsively, and begin to make adjustments to math instruction (Math Circle).

  Teach. Analyze and rehearse Responsive Math Teaching skills, then collaboratively plan, enact, and reflect on the implementation of Responsive Math lessons with peer partners (Collaborative Lesson Design).
  Lead by facilitation professional development and supporting other teachers across the network as they adopt and refine Responsive Math Teaching practices (Mentoring, Leading PD).

Cross-School Collaborative Lesson Design

The collaborative lesson design cycle is Plan (RMT lessons collaboratively), Enact Lesson (in own school), Debrief (using artifacts). The Teach PD cycles is Analyze (videos of practice) and Rehearse (RMT practices).

Teachers who have completed phase 1 with RMT participate in Collaborative Lesson Design cycles with teachers working at the same grade level. In these planning teams, teachers and leaders engage in planning, enacting, and debriefing RMT lessons. The goal of Collaborative Lesson Design is for teachers to improve their ability to plan and enact responsive math lessons.



Building Sustainable Leadership Capacity

Infographic depicting RMT’s Networked Approach to Building Leadership: 6 cohorts, 15 leaders, 152 trained educators, and 300+ participants.

RMT provides a much-needed on-ramp for professional growth and leadership development: over time many of our participants have moved from classroom teacher roles into school-based leadership roles or district-level leadership positions.

Through a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, funded by the National Science Foundation, RMT worked with six cohorts of teachers and leaders, reaching more than 300 educators, and developing 15 math instructional leaders who support teachers in their schools and across Learning Network 2. Leaders took on network-wide responsibilities, reducing the need for university-based support, and ensuring sustainability of the work.

Responsive Math Teaching table outlining individual leader development over five years. Columns include cohort, leader, and year 0 through 5. Rows include Cohorts 1-3, Leaders A-M, and leaders' developing roles including classroom teacher, math lead, released math lead, school leadership, and district leadership. Under the final four columns some leaders have additional labels as Apprentice, Independent, or Mentor.

Participants in a professional development activity.


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RMT is a part of Penn GSE’s Office of School and Community Engagement and partners with the School District of Philadelphia.

Team & Contact


For more information:


Faculty Director
Caroline B. Ebby

Project Manager
Lizzy Pecora

Math Coaching Specialist
Brittany Hess 


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (DRK12 1813048)
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