The Construct of Teacher Noticing

Jennifer E. Johnson

The Simplicity and Complexity of Situating Teacher Noticing within Teacher Education

“Observation is exploration, inquiry for the sake of discovering something previously hidden and unknown, this is something being needed in order to reach some end, practical or theoretical” (Dewey, 1910/2001, p. 141).

The Root of Professional Noticing

Mason (2011) positions that central to view of noticing “is a collection of practices designed to sensitize oneself so as to notice opportunities in the future in which to act freshly rather than automatically out of habit” (p. 35).


Four interconnected actions bring the process of noticing to become “in-the-moment” (Mason, 2002, p. 99):

(1) systematic reflection,

(2) preparing and noticing,

(3) recognizing choices, and

(4) validating and refining.

Definition of Professional Noticing

Jacobs, Lamb, and Philipp (2010) state, “Before the teacher responds, the three component skills of professional noticing – attending, interpreting, and decided how to respond – happen in the background, almost simultaneously as if constituting a single, integrated teaching move” (p. 173).


What teachers notice and how they respond is largely based on their prior knowledge of the students, content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and their teacher beliefs.


This field of studying teacher noticing in mathematics education has flourished in the past twenty years based on two assumptions:

(1) teacher noticing is an important practice of expert teachers and

(2) teacher noticing is trainable.

Noticing of Students' Thinking and Participation

  • Novice teachers attend to teacher moves rather than student moves (Turner et al. 2012).
  • Expertise in attending to students' thinking is foundational to deciding how to respond on the basis of students' understanding (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010).
  • The lens of participation gave teachers the opportunity to notice inequitable structures and what teachers notice is shaped by their positional identities (Wagner, 2014).
  • Developing expertise in deciding how to respond is challenging but can be achieved through sustained professional development (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010; Wagner, 2014).

Learning to Notice

  • Use of video for teacher learning is useful for helping teacher learn to notice (van Es & Sherin, 2008; Star et al., 2011).
  • Different type of artifacts (written student work, video) draw teacher's focus to different aspects to attend and respond to (Goldsmith & Seago, 2011).
  • Even with explicit training, preservice teachers have a hard time making decisions to notice important features (Star et al. 2011).

Situating Teacher Noticing within Teacher Education

One thing is apparent...there are a lot of different viewpoints of a classroom and a lot of different aspects to notice. This is especially difficult for novice teachers as they are still growing their beliefs, dispositions, content and pedagogical content knowledge.


For prospective teachers, can we develop a framework of their growth in noticing? Can we determine how beliefs, dispositions, and pedagogical content knowledge are intercorrelated in this framework?