This study employs interviews and observations to investigate instructional rationales of two purposefully sampled teachers with divergent classroom discourse practices in Swedish-speaking Finnish lower secondary mathematics classrooms. Studies on classroom discourse often point to beliefs and contextual factors shaping teachers’ discourse practices. Less is known about how tensions perceived by teachers can influence the instructional rationale in a context such as Finland, known for traditional and teacher-centered mathematics instruction. Findings of this study suggest that these Finnish teachers’ instructional rationales for differently enacted classroom-discourse practices are grounded in similar concerns of student needs, related to student learning, well-being, and equity. One of the teachers perceived a tension between these concerns and mathematics education literature’s ideals of classroom discourse and avoided engaging students in discussions other than in tightly teacher-led format. The other embraced the idea of discourse as facilitating learning and created methods for giving all students equal access to the perceived benefits of mathematical discussions. The identified tensions of student learning, well-being, and equity can be used as guiding principles in developing teachers’ discourse practices in professional development in Finland and beyond.
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