Responsive Math Teaching (RMT) is an NSF-funded research project focused on improving mathematics instruction in a network of elementary schools through a research-practice partnership between Penn GSE and the School District of Philadelphia. The RMT project is built around five core components:

Responsive Math Teaching Infographic
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University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Logo

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

RMT supports ongoing professional development model through 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, cross-school COLLABORATIVE LESSON DESIGN groups.

A select group of teachers and teacher leaders 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 with one or more years of RMT experience participate in Collaborative Lesson Design cycles with teachers from across the network working at the same grade level. In these cross-school 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

Between 2018 and 2022, RMT has worked with five cohorts of teachers and leaders, reaching more than 200 educators, and developing 13 math instructional leaders who support teachers in their schools and across the network. Eleven leaders are currently leading professional development, reducing the need for university-based support, and ensuring sustainability of the work. 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.

NSF Funding brackets; Year 0: 2017-18, Year 1: 2018-19, Year 2: 2019-20, Year 3: 2020-21, Year 4: 2021-2022; Cohort 1: Anderson, Cassidy, Overbrook ES; Cohort 2: Gompers, Hamilton, Locke, Penn Alexander, Powel; Cohort 3; Cohort 4; Experience, Teach, Lead Apprentice, Lead School, Lead Network Arrows

Participants in a professional development activity.

Resources for Partners

RMT Model
Planning and Coaching Protocol
RMT Poster

RMT Task Bank available to educators with 1+ years of experience with RMT PD

Participants in a professional development activity.


School District of Philadelphia Logo

We are partnering with elementary schools in Learning Network 2 of the School District of Philadelphia to provide school-based support for mathematics instructional leadership, strategic planning, and professional development.

Team & Contact


For inquiries and general information:


Principal Investigator
Caroline B. Ebby

Co-Principal Investigator
Caroline Watts 

Brittany Hess

Jennifer Valerio

Joy Anderson Davis

Lindsay Goldsmith-Markey

Lizzy Pecora


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