Takeaway #1 from #NCTM2019: Equitable teaching practices.

This is my first post in a LOONG time.  It’s been quite a year. Without getting too detailed:

  1. I left my last school (after 18 years) to help build a mathematics program at a new school. I love this new community, and I love the support I’ve received to build a math program guided by equity, inquiry, safety, and good teaching & learning.  It will be a long journey, but one I am glad I began.
  2. I know I needed to revisit lots of the professional development I’ve enjoyed in the past 10-15 years through this new lens. In many ways, I’m “Back at One.” In particular, I need to more deeply understand my responsibility to teach in a way that convinces my students that they will be okay taking risks, being themselves, and making mistakes.  Too often, the  fear of judgment, being dismissed, being deemed stupid / lazy / disruptive.

Last week I spent a killer week in San Diego attending The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics  research sessions, events, and presentations.

To summarize all of it?  I felt welcomed.  I felt appreciated. I felt like my colleagues and friends were ready to hold me accountable. I felt challenged. I felt like part of a team.

It reminded me of when I saw this on the Oprah show in 2000, with Toni Morrison:  “Does your Face Light Up when they enter the room?”  

The session that had the most impact, among a slew of very good presentations:

HANDS DOWN:   Dr. Imani Goffney, University of Maryland:  “From Oakland to Wakanda:”  Transforming Mathematics Classrooms to Become Empowering Spaces.  I cannot overstate the impact this presentation had on me.  I was most impacted by that fact that  I grew and blossomed as a teacher because of the compassion, kindness, and expertise of colleagues who took active steps to believe in my potential and see brilliance in me.  I was emotional upon reflecting how crucial these assumptions and extensions of trust were to my own growth as a student and as a teacher.

She expertly revealed common assumptions and practices that shut down these possibilities for students of color, and ways to move our classrooms from de-humanizing experiences to re-humanizing experiences. What I especially loved: It is grounded in deeper mathematical understanding, and deeper understanding of the students I teach. Two ways to re-leverage common practices:

  1. Work from the assumption of the brilliance of Black and Brown students (like we unconsciously do more often with White and Asian students).
  2. Collecting feedback on the impact of my own decisions in class.




Me, Dr. Imani Masters-Goffney, Dr. Nicole Bannister

This is what I will be working on.










About roughlynormal

I have been a math/statistics teacher for 25 years. I currently teach at an independent school in southern California. I also coach teaching fellows for Math for America - Los Angeles chapter. I love my career, my colleagues, and my friends & family.
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