“You can’t go it alone. We’re neuro-biologically hard-wired for connection with other people. In the absence of connection, love, and belonging, there is suffering.”–Brené Brown from The Call to Courage Netflix special
I wholeheartedly feel the same way as Brené about my learning community. I can’t do this work alone! I loved that I had an opportunity to reconnect and even grew my community circle at this year’s national math conferences in April. My community grew so much that I didn’t get a chance to post last month due to my travel and teaching schedule.
Article that inspired this post: A few months ago, a NYT article featured Dr. Edray Goins’ journey in mathematics academia and how he encountered multiple microagressions from colleagues and felt isolated. He eventually left his tenured position last year to find a safe space. I share this article every chance I get because it’s important to create safe learning environments/spaces where African American and other students of color feel like they belong so they can think, learn, and thrive in classrooms.
New learning community members: I added new friends to my learning community throughout the conference at various events. Dr. Aris Winger who has been leading math teacher circles to provide space for deeper discussions around teaching and learning. I have been trying to get my hands on his monograph published by NCSM and it’s on it’s way thanks to my new friend!
First Timer: When I met Dr. Winger, I told him about the NYT article that I mentioned above (I share it all the time!) not only had he read it, he turned around and called over his friend/colleague who had been quoted in the article. He introduced me to his friend/colleague Dr. Michael Young, a mathematician from Iowa State.
Dr. Young’s first NCSM presentation Equity in the Mathematics Classroom: Who Do We Leave Out? helped me consider ways to create a cycle of change to include all learners of color. He shared how he and his team implemented ways for students to access the content to “save mathematics” for those students and adults alike who didn’t have good experiences.
Celebrations: I celebrated and toasted with my own learning community–Math Solutions–which celebrated 35 years at #NCTMSD2019. I have loved learning with Marilyn and my close colleague friends for all of these years. As Marilyn says, “We learn together, we learn from each other, and we learn with each other.”
Highlight of my life: Gloria Lads0n-Billings opened #NCTMSD2019 this year. Her book, Dreamkeepers, was the first book I read about culturally responsive pedagogy at the beginning of my teacher certification program. I was fangirling the whole time. Her talk, Are We Still Solving for X?” focused on the challenges for students of color and students who live in poverty in mathematics classrooms. She continues to advocate for culturally sustaining pedagogy. “Mathematics is a cultural artifact and how we teach it provides some students more access than others.”
What I missed: I also finally met Dr. Kristopher Childs in person. Before the conference, we had connected on various forms of communication and he made sure I signed up for his networking events to help me connect with new people. He’s everything he is on social media…inspiring and encouraging. I am so sad I missed his “Ignite” session in person and so grateful that someone captured it. Check it out!
As the school years is coming to a close, how are you going to grow and learn about your students of color so you can make an impact on their learning?