On Thursday at #NCTMAnnual, four speakers urged teachers to reflect on their power not just to help students encounter mathematical knowledge but to change how students define themselves in relationship to math and to each other.
Video of each of their talks is online right now and each presenter invites you to join them in a follow-up conversation about their ideas over the next month. (More below.)
- Lauren Lamb told us about her experience learning mathematics as a young woman of color, how she often felt invisible in her classrooms and unrepresented in her textbooks. She described the ways her teachers did and didn’t involve her in her own mathematics education.
- Javier Garcia contrasted the ways we talk about students (as though they’re incomplete, fallible) and mathematics (as though it’s complete, infallible) and made a case that teachers should reverse those two descriptions.
- Nanette Johnson impressed upon the audience the fact that each of them will leave behind a legacy for their students, an indelible imprinting of their efforts, either positive or negative.
- Andrew Gael revealed the potency of our presumptions about student competence, and how students often live up and down to those presumptions. What we believe about student competence affects how we work with those students, which affects their opportunities to develop competence.
Great talks each one. Each one well worth your time.
But what happens to talks like these after they’re over? The ShadowCon Hypothesis is that the ideas from even great talks rarely survive contact with the reality of classroom instruction; that absent any kind of conversation or community organized around their implementation, those ideas are too easily put in a box labeled “Nice to Think About” or “Maybe Later.”
Each of our speakers agree with that hypothesis and each one wants to participate in a conversation with you over the next month. Sign up for a course you’d like to think and talk more about. We’ll place you on an email thread with a couple of random, interesting colleagues. Then you’ll receive a new discussion prompt once per week for the next four weeks, starting May 7. On a weekly basis, the speakers will summarize the most interesting ideas and answer the most perplexing questions from across all the groups.
It’s going to be a very interesting month.