This is my first post in a LOONG time. It’s been quite a year. Without getting too detailed:
- 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.
- 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:
- Work from the assumption of the brilliance of Black and Brown students (like we unconsciously do more often with White and Asian students).
- Collecting feedback on the impact of my own decisions in class.
This is what I will be working on.