Breakout Session 4 - 17th September at 10:25 - 11:05

“We’re all in this together!”: The role of relational trust when leading mathematics in primary school settings

Presenter/s: Matt Sexton
Type: Research paper
Keywords: Middle leading; Mathematics education; Relational trust
Room: Auaha Hīhī


Middle leading has surfaced as a form of educational leadership distinct from that enacted by principals. Through their positioning between principals and classroom teachers, middle leaders play an integral role in engaging teachers in developmental work that influences teaching practice. Mathematics leadership has recently been conceptualised as a form of middle leading that facilitates the development of mathematics teaching practice in schools.
This session will present stories of mathematics leadership enacted in Australian primary schools. Drawing on research findings informed by cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), the ways mathematics leaders work on relational trust through leadership of mathematics teaching practice development will be highlighted. The stories demonstrate how a commitment to collegial relationships supports mathematics leaders to lead well and with others.

This session will stimulate discussion by positioning relationality as a concept that explains how mathematics leaders lead in ways captured in the conference theme of leading well, leading with others, and leading with optimism. Provocations will be offered about how relational trust is realised through leadership actions enacted by mathematics leaders and discussing their enactment in contexts beyond Australian school settings.


Matt Sexton

Dr Matt Sexton is a Mathematics Education Lecturer and the Director of the Mathematics Teaching and Learning Centre (MTLC) at Australian Catholic University. Matt’s research focuses on using cultural-historical activity theory to understand how mathematics leaders influence teachers’ school-based professional learning. He is interested in how mathematics leadership activity facilitates practice development in mathematics teaching. Matt is particularly drawn to how mathematics leaders engage colleagues in pedagogical reasoning as a form of professional practice enacted by teachers in schools.