This Week at Global Math – 2/23/2021







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Please join us Tuesday, March 2nd for:

“Advanced Algebra with Financial Applications” An Algebra 2 Alternative for Struggling Students

Presented by Dr Robert Gerver

Selected topics from Algebra 2, probability, statistics, trig, geometry and precalculus, all taught with an algebra 1 prerequisite, are used to cover banking, credit, mortgages, income taxes, auto insurance, investing, budgets, and much more. The perfect alternative to algebra 2 for a struggling student who would be set up for failure in algebra 2.

To register for this webinar, click here.

No Webinar Tonight.
Instead, consider checking out our archives of previous GMD Webinars at the links at the bottom of this newsletter. 

#GMDWrites

Math Olympiads & Gender Silence

Now in my fifth year of teaching math at a girls day school, my local thinking is often oriented around identity factors other than gender (which is, very roughly speaking, held constant at my institution) as I focus instead on race, class, religion, etc. When I instead think globally (in the mathematical sense of the word) I become enraged with the accepted state of affairs as pertains to women and girls in US mathematics. (For just one example from the previous week – with follow-ups to come – see the blog post here. For an earlier GMD contribution from me on Gender Matters & More, see here.)

All of that is to say: Quanta Magazine has yet another terrible miss (and mess!) in its coverage of math olympiads. I tweeted out some of my thoughts:

Is this state of affairs acceptable from organizing bodies in mathematics? (Hint: No.)

The MAA is aware of these problems. Incidentally, there was an article in their own MAA Focus February/March 2019 issue by Boaler, Cordero, and Dieckmann entitled Pursuing Gender

Equity in Mathematics Competitions: A Case of Mathematical Freedom, which relates to a COMAP webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, February 24, 2021; sign up!):

Moving our gender focus momentarily from math olympiads to the actual olympics, a campaign against the overtly sexist Tokyo 2020 president was successful in pushing him out of his leadership role. What activist lessons can the mathematics communities learn from this?

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard from the MAA, nor from anyone at Quanta, nor from the current coach on whom the earlier article is focused. Despite my tweets and tags, they have all been silent (as of the time of my writing). But, I did notice a few others who were voicing their displeasure – women mathematicians who have not been silent – and three of them wrote the piece below.

– Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

 

An AMC for the Mathematics Community

 So you’d never drop a problem?
If it’s a math problem, it’s hard to get something that would make me drop it, unless somehow something was proved that said that it is not possible. To me, “drop” is a really strong term. Because what if in 10 years a new technique developed? It’s a new weapon, you should try it.
– Coach for the International Math Olympiad US team, in Quanta Magazine
 
Making mathematics more inclusive? It’s a difficult problem but not an impossible one. As a community, we have not exhausted our arsenal of weapons to fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion; even if it takes decades of work, we cannot drop this problem! Inspired by the MAA’s American Mathematics Competition, we invite the mathematical community to participate in the following exercise. Share your answers (full or partial) on Twitter with #GMDWrites.
 
About the Authors: We three authors met on Twitter in a thread about the Quanta interview. We decided to get together (on Zoom! on a weekend!) to talk about some of the exercises below, and we’ll continue to meet to formalize some of these thoughts into a letter to the MAA and to Quanta. We hope others will join us to continue this discussion, as each of the three of us carries the privilege of being a tenured white woman mathematician, and thus our perspective is limited.

Topics for this year’s exercises were retrieved from the Mathematical Association of America.

1. Community. Should we believe that “the best pre-college math students in the world” are represented in the International Math Olympiad (IMO)?


Locations of 348 US high schools listed on the Achievement, Honor, and Merit Rolls of the AMC 2020 10/12 A and B events extracted from the AMC Historical Statistics tool, Google Maps, US Postal Service zip codes, and the Department of Education Public School Locations.
 
  • What efforts are being made to create math competition teams for high school learners, especially those in underserved communities? About 6,000 secondary schools in the US have teams, but there are approximately 35,000 high schools in the US.
  • Does there exist professional development with the explicit mission to build a network of coaches in a broader range of high schools?
  • How can math competitions (including the AMC) promote more collaborative problem solving? How would this affect the community of participant.
2. Inclusion. Who gets to enter the competition funnel? What are the barriers to entry?
  • The MAA allows users to create a report to study the breakdown of AMC participation in terms of the gender binary. What could we learn if we could create reports along other axes of diversity (race, ethnicity, ability/disability, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographical location…)?
  • Since we do have limited data about gender… where are the girls? Why are they competing in the European Girls’ Math Olympiad?
  • How could math competitions (including but not limited to the AMC) broaden access to mathematics?
3. Communication. Should we be satisfied with the answer given by the US math olympiad coach when asked about diversity and gender representation? What could a truly transformative approach to coaching look like?

Excerpt from the Quanta interview
 
  • Who gets to represent mathematics in venues like Quanta? What does that mean for how mathematics is represented? Whose achievements are highlighted?
  • How could the structure of, and participation in, the decades-old AMC to IMO competition pipeline reflect our changing society?
  • Why does the MAA promote this competition instead of others? What does the participation and format of the AMC competition (multiple choice test where students work independently) communicate to K12 students and teachers about mathematics?
  • How could the MAA celebrate and advance creative mathematical achievements of high schoolers beyond the six students celebrated at the end of the IMO?
4. Teaching and Learning. What can we infer from a track record of 36 men, 0 women in the US Math Olympiad team led by this coach?
 

Data retrieved from https://www.imo-official.org/
  • How could the AMC to IMO competition pipeline align better with MAA’s vision to use mathematics to “promote human flourishing”?
  • Why does it cost so much to prepare? How could the MAA provide high quality, free resources for the broader community? What role could the US team’s coach have in providing these resources?
  • What are the research-based instructional methods and resources that are being used in IMO coaching?
Extra Credit. Microsoft is training a computer to solve International Math Olympiad problems. What can we infer about Microsoft’s view of “the Grand Challenge” facing the IMO?
 
***
 
In the Quanta article, the US team’s coach describes his approach to mathematical problem solving:
 
You can’t just sit there and say: “I don’t know if this idea will work. I don’t know if that idea will work. I’m not going to try any idea.” No, you’ve got to dive in. You have to already have the attitude that “I don’t know where this idea is taking me, but I’m going to push it all the way through.”
 
The structural problems that prevent a broader participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in the AMC to IMO competition pipeline are real, and they parallel problems in the mathematics profession. Here, we encourage the IMO coach, the MAA, and the mathematics community to persevere in solving these problems: it’s time to dive in and push some ideas all the way through.
 

Get Involved with the Newsletter

Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.

With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

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This Week at Global Math – 2/16/2021







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 PM EST!

#DisruptiveNumbers, A Tool to Teach Mathematics for Social Justice

Presented by Bernadette Andres-Salgarino

Recommitting ourselves to teaching mathematics through the lens of social justice necessitates the reinvigoration of our pedagogical approach to learning. #DisruptiveNumbers is a tool to provoke mathematics discourse to unravel the intricacies that numbers bring to uncover hidden stories that perpetuate partisanship in our society. In this presentation, activities that use numbers and data in real-world contexts, and stories to bring awareness of sociopolitical issues that impact students’ lives will be shared.

To register for this webinar, click here.

#GMDWrites

Liberatory Mathematics
for breaking out of jail
 
In 2019, I taught Contemporary Mathematics in a medium security men’s correctional facility. Prior to that experience, I had never been inside a correctional facility, nor had I had significant conversations with anyone who had been incarcerated. Following that experience, I started corresponding with inmates through the Prison Mathematics Project, and I am writing this piece with the following in mind.
  1. Through teaching and corresponding about math with incarcerated folks, I have uncovered a core principle of my teaching philosophy: “Everyone deserves to find freedom and joy in mathematics.”
     
  2. Incarceration and feelings of isolation while learning math create barriers to learning that are unique to the incarcerated

If you’ve been watching some of the developments in mathematics (like this recent lecture cancellation, or this call to boycott work with police and the military, or this predictive model for curbing white collar crime), you know that mathematicians are grappling with how it is used (e.g., to surveil and incarcerate people). Conversely, the prison apparatus has made its way into our classrooms (most recently through online proctoring and even full-on AI proctoring), treating students as potential offenders and seeking to curtail hypothetical cheating (aka carceral pedagogy). And — let’s not kid ourselves — mathematics as a subject is already laden with oppression. When a corrections officer learned that I was teaching math in the prison, he laughed and said, “That must be part of their sentence, but what did you do to deserve to be here?”

In my Contemporary Mathematics course, I had fully intended to give students my best active learning pedagogy in every class. But one day I arrived, waited with colleagues for almost 2 hours for correction officers to clear the instructors to go to our classrooms, and found an exhausted group of men. There had clearly been An Incident, and on a “normal” campus, I would have rescheduled our class. On this campus, rescheduling was impossible for logistical reasons, but also — my students wanted to be there, even exhausted, because our classroom was a different kind of space for them. Did we do the small group, active inquiry exercises I had planned? Reader, we did not. I covered some material with a (minimally) active lecture, and saved time at the end for just… sitting there. Doing math, not doing math, whatever.
“Every day that I wake up and go about my life I try not to allow the present circumstances that I’ve created for myself to determine the passions and the future I want to see myself in,” writes Christopher Jackson, an inmate whose correspondence with Francis Su inspired the book Mathematics for Human Flourishing. Su and other educators are working toward a vision of liberation while — and through — learning mathematics (see also @ATN_1863). This past summer, I attended a workshop on Embodying Liberatory Practices in the Classroom put on by the NYU Metro Center (@metronyu). This workshop was important to my own continued growth as a professor for many reasons, but in particular, it gave words to a feeling that had been growing as I experienced and learned more about math in prison. It’s not just students in traditional classrooms who deserve liberation; math learners in prisons deserve a liberatory classroom, too. 
To fully see our incarcerated students’ circumstances, we have to understand who is in prison. Given the demographics of the incarcerated in the US, rehumanizing mathematics and trauma-informed pedagogy are necessarily linked with liberatory mathematics in prisons. (In my 30+ years of being in classrooms as a learner or teacher, my Contemporary Math class had the most diverse group of students along the axes of age, ethnicity, and race.)  But the math pedagogy that works for joyful, collaborative, community-oriented mathematics in “normal” classrooms doesn’t seem to translate neatly to prison. Barriers to learning combine in ways that are specific to being in prison; a pedagogy for teaching in prison must anticipate and respond to those.

 
What I felt then (and still feel now) is that there must be more to teaching in prison than just doing my best and adapting on the fly. There is surely a network of people who are thinking hard about mathematics education for incarcerated people. And they’re not just thinking about how classrooms are a place for incarcerated people to learn mathematics, but they’re thinking about how teaching and learning mathematics is a way to affirm the humanity of incarcerated folks. And I want in!
So, dear Global Mathematicians, I hope you’ll correspond with me about the following questions:
  1. Who is thinking through/has thought through/wants to think through math pedagogy specific to correctional facilities? How do we keep in touch?
     
  2. What body of literature is out there that can help support improvements to prison education programs (including but not limited to improvements to, e.g., the interested instructor)? How does the interested practitioner find resources and opportunities like The Inside Out Center?
     
What is our homework as abolitionists — keeping carceral pedagogy out of our schools, keeping folks out of prison, ensuring that classrooms and prisons are safe places for those who inhabit them, and increasing access to liberatory mathematics? How can we be effective together where we might be ineffective individually?
 

The Profession of Education
 

This last week, Christie Nold (@ChristieNold) posted a tweet that went viral. In the tweet she responded to the idea of educators working over the summer, noting that we are all exhausted. Being asked to do additional work, which most of us already are in these days of hybrid learning, only raises our own awareness of the fatigue we all feel as we try to simultaneously survive a pandemic and educate children. 


 

The idea of students attending summer school is related to the new trend of discussing “learning loss”. For an excellent article on how the concept of “learning loss” is problematic, read this one by Julia Matthews. In it she states,

“The frame of ‘learning loss’ also highlights the flawed belief that learning is tightly bound to instructional minutes and synonymous with grading and testing. Yet meaningful learning is rarely “lost.” The imposed fear of falling behind on content delivery puts educators in an untenable position, and inserts a reductive version of school in the home.”
 

One thread that ties the exhaustion of teachers now and the made-up take on “learning loss” from the general public together is the deprofessionalization of educators. I wonder: 
 

     What would it take for education to be taken seriously as a profession? 
 
In March, April, & May, teachers were heralded as heroes. In August, when they asked for safe working conditions and guidelines during a pandemic, we were told we were lazy and didn’t want what was best for kids. And now, in February, a year from when pandemic teaching began, we are exhausted and asked to make up gains for children in an imaginary standard in order to appease the general public. How can the professionalism of a career that many claim is so noble and consequential for society constantly be the target for others to denigrate? 
 

  • Is it because we don’t have a standardized process for measuring teaching professionally? Nope, we have that. (see National Boards for Professional Teaching)
  • Is it because we need research that shows that teaching mathematics, knowing mathematics, and doing mathematics are inherently different sets of knowledge? Nope. We have that. (see Math Knowledge for Teaching from Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008)
  • Is it because we need a large social catastrophe that demonstrates the weight of the profession in general society? (See the ongoing global pandemic)

 
If we have all the receipts for our work, how come others readily choose to ignore it as such? 
 
Sometimes, when I have more questions than answers, I go back and look at the receipts, especially the ones that come from the students. Fawn Ngyuen (@fawnpnguyen) posted yesterday asking teachers to share a comment that a student said that still makes you smile. The post brought me laughs, smiles, and a few tears. Thanks, Fawn. 
 
Pandemically Pondering,
 
Lauren Baucom
@LBmathemgician
 

The Critical Ninth-grade Year: Learning and Grades in a Pandemic
 

I hated teaching 9th grade math until I loved teaching 9th grade math. Ninth graders have a lot of energy and innocence but most of all, they have curiosity about the world, about themselves and their peers, about growing up and becoming a part of the world, and some (few) were even curious about math. Ninth grade is a critical transition year for young people and more so if you’re Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC); research backs this up even if it’s not surprising for any high school teacher who has worked for even one year in a working-poor public school.
 
This pandemic has me thinking a lot about 9th graders whose only experience in high school has been online, not having opportunities to connect with their peers, explore extra-curriculars and sports and all the other rites of passages that come with transitioning from elementary to secondary. And not to romanticize high school in any way because a part of going to high school at least in places like Chicago also involves not being academically prepared for the demands of high school, challenges involved with navigating a new bureaucracy with its own set of norms and regulations, increased freedom, and not the least of it all, class content that quite honestly feels largely irrelevant for teenagers.
 
While most high schoolers may not drop out during their 9th grade, students grades and GPA in that first year are consequential for graduating high school, college enrollment, and even college retention through the 1st year. In their research report, The Predictive Power of Ninth-Grade GPA, the Chicago Consortium on School Research (CCSR) lays out their methodology and key findings that show the impact of a ninth grader’s GPA on the aforementioned outcomes. In their study that draws on data from over 180,000+ students across 8 cohort of students in Chicago from 2008 to 2013, ninth-grade GPA is a strong signal of what’s to come years later. The short of it is that the more we can help ninth graders experience success in their courses and freshmen grades, the more likely they are to stay in school and do well. The research base largely done by CCSR over decades now in Chicago Public Schools, has led to a key metric labelled the Freshman-on-Track metric that measures the number of students in a given school who have accumulated at least 5 full-year course credits and no more than one F in a core class. This metric has catalyzed freshmen teachers, administrators, and support staff to hone in on the 9th grade year ramping up efforts to provide students with the necessary supports to meet the metric. Schools have created such things as Freshman seminars dedicated to making the tools and steps for success explicit for students, summer bridge courses for struggling incoming ninth graders, additional academic supports at the ninth grade, among others. A system-wide focus on improving the Freshman On-Track metric with coaching and professional development resources has resulted in sustained, system-wide improvement in graduation rates, college access, and college retention rates. The documentary The Second Window: How a Focus on Freshman Transformed a System details the research base for its success.
 
Given what I know anecdotally from having taught 9th grade math for over a decade, in light of the amassing research underscoring ninth grade as a consequential year for academic success has me thinking a lot lately about ninth graders’ remote experiences with even stronger anguish. And while the above research tells us that ninth-year grades are key, remote learning has presented us with a unique opportunity to rethink the purpose and ways of education. I’m not interested in ‘learning loss’ as much as making a call to all ninth grade teachers to take stock of our classrooms, our students and their families, and even our own families and communities in the current moment. Although I recognize that we, as teachers, hold ourselves to high standards for teaching content, we must remember that we teach children and then we teach content. Although I truly believe that teachers of all subjects are making space for students to make connections and are attempting, in their own creative ways, to address students’ social emotional needs, I want to offer two ideas from my experiences having taught ninth grade for others to (re)consider:
 

  • Humanizing through Relationships: While not a new or unique idea, it is worth saying it again here: we have to find a way to humanize remote and hybrid spaces by placing relationships and students’ voices at the center. Whereas before we may have dangled grades and rules to try to get students to comply, it is clear that relationships and responsiveness could not hold a stronger imperative. This means that we may have to (if we have not already) let go of our press to teach as much content. We might even resurrect the Coalition of Essential Schools principle of ‘less is more’ here. If students are not engaged authentically, they are not really absorbing our lessons in any meaningful or enduring way. In order to engage students and meet them where they are at requires courage and vulnerability to put the textbook down and, yes, talk to our kids. Engage them in the current problem of teaching and learning, however you and your students co-construct it. By opening a mutual dialogue with students, you are offering them a space to co-author a solution that has more potential to actually be a solution, even if only temporarily, because the students created it. But know that students’ disengagement is not solely tied to remote learning as the pandemic has overwhelmed the kinds of supports that young people, families, and communities used to rely on in the past. This dialogue may raise issues that feel (and largely are) beyond our control. That is okay but sometimes just giving students the space to air their feelings and grief is an important step moving forward, building a community of connection. We must also find ways to celebrate our students, for their resilience, for their commitment to show up every day, and for simply being who they are.
 
  • Learning and Grades: I would be remiss to not return to the Consortium research cited above that strongly correlates grades with future academic outcomes. While there have been recent calls to radically transform our grading practices now more than ever, there has been growing evidence for some time now to support the ways in which our current system is antiquated, inequitable and even mathematically inaccurate (Feldman, 2019). Undoubtedly, schools have probably seen more F’s on students’ report grades at every level forcing administrators and instructional leaders to rethink their pandemic grading practices and, in some cases, even hold back students’ grades due to lack of assessment evidence as students turn in less and less completed work. I’ll offer here an alternative and fluent grade that we created at the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School (YWLCS) in 2000 called the Not Yet which incidentally Carol Dweck mentioned in her Ted Talk on Growth Mindset in 2014. Each course at YWLCS was tied to 8-10 outcomes (majority content-based with few behavioral outcomes) for which each student was given a grade among Highly Proficient, Proficient, or Not Yet. The girls (it was an all-girls public charter school) had essentially up until their Senior year to make up their Not Yet grades which required them to work with the discipline-specific teacher to make a plan to work on the content and make it up. There were benchmarks put in place to ensure we were not setting them up to make it too far along without any Proficient grades, but, for example, I could be approached by a student in Algebra 2 wanting to demonstrate proficiency in an Algebra 1 concept or skill. I might quiz her right there on the spot or ask her to do an assignment to demonstrate her competency. If she demonstrated proficiency, I could and would go into the system and change the grade. While this might appear overwhelming (and it was), we learned to be assessment heavy changing our instructional practices and shifting our conversations with students from completing work to demonstrating proficiency. This was significant and should not go understated. Not only were students talking about and demonstrating content, they internalized the notion that learning is ongoing and is based on effort not ‘smartness’. This assessment system, or at least the concept of a Not Yet, could offer our current students (9th grade and otherwise) acknowledgement that we are going through a pandemic together and that we hold their social, emotional, and physical needs with the utmost regard. It is not that learning is not happening: we might even take stock of what we are learning and reassure ourselves that academic competencies will be learned, in due time.

Written by Patty Buenrostro

Get Involved with the Newsletter

Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.

With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Visit our Website Visit our Website

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This Week at Global Math – 2/9/2021







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Next Week!

#DisruptiveNumbers, A Tool to Teach Mathematics for Social Justice

Presented by Bernadette Andres-Salgarino

Recommitting ourselves to teaching mathematics through the lens of social justice necessitates the reinvigoration of our pedagogical approach to learning. #DisruptiveNumbers is a tool to provoke mathematics discourse to unravel the intricacies that numbers bring to uncover hidden stories that perpetuate partisanship in our society. In this presentation, activities that use numbers and data in real-world contexts, and stories to bring awareness of sociopolitical issues that impact students’ lives will be shared.

To register for this webinar, click here.

#GMDWrites

February
By: Hema Khodai (@HKhodai)

 

We are not all surviving the same pandemic. 

Whatever version you find yourself living through as you read this, I hope there is something here that affirms your current reality and invites you into this community.
 

The Mathematics of Opportunity: Advancing Social Justice Through Math Education
 
Myself, I am intentional with my screen time and reserved energy to attend Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s Keynote Session,  Math and its Aftermath: Reimagining Data for Justice, at the Just Equations conference last week. This was my first experience learning from Dr. Benjamin and what resonated most  from her brilliant talk is that we must be as rigorous about the stories as we are about the statistics; the cultural narratives matter a great deal – they influence how people act on the data. It is the combination of powerful storytelling and meaningful data that drive societal change. 
  • Whose stories do we continually leave out of policy in education? 
  • Whose stories are routinely whitewashed in spaces of mathematics advocacy?
  • Do we accept that we are pattern makers? 

Check out #MathOpportunity2021 for more.
 
W5H
 
If you find yourself with 75 minutes to take in a Session Lecture, I invite you to view Dr. Erica Graham’s Anti-racism in mathematics. That may seem a daunting task right now so here is a summary in a blogpost. Or maybe you have the capacity to scroll, in which case I share with you Dr. Marissa Kawehi’s thread.
 

 
Action
 
Maybe you find yourself in a moment where you feel empowered to engage in the math ed world. If so, I encourage you to check out your local affiliations, associations, and organizations as this is election season for positions of power. Do research into who folx are, what they represent, how they move towards justice, and whether their why is rooted in care for children marginalized by systems of oppression.
 
The struggle continues
And friend, if you find yourself with absolutely no desire to do any of the above – rest. We’ll be here if and when you choose to return, to support you in your journey to work towards a better world.
 

Get Involved with the Newsletter

Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.

With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Visit our Website Visit our Website

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This Week at Global Math – 2/2/21







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Join Us Tonight!

Partnering with Parents in Elementary School Math

Presented by Hilary Kreisberg and Matthew Beyranevand

In this session, you will deepen your understanding of parents’ needs and wants as they pertain to their children’s elementary mathematics education, as well as examine your own beliefs about partnering with parents. We will provide guidance for teachers and leaders on how to communicate with parents and caregivers, as well as offer practical tips that educators and school leaders can use immediately to systematically change their relationships with families.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

#GMDWrites

“Are you sure you’re in the right class?”
 
“Are you sure you’re in the right class?” My new complex analysis classmate had waited until I was seated, smiling gently as he asked. In each retelling of this now all-but-cliché micro-aggression (among others), I emerge victorious – armed with a savage comeback and the resolve to dismantle stereotypes about women of color in mathematics through my own achievements. In truth, I wasn’t sure that I did belong in that class; I had enrolled in the “honors” section only because the others were either full or conflicted with my work schedule. I remember little of my actual response beyond its awkward, muted rage, and the lingering self-doubts that my various forms of privilege and past successes in mathematics could not buffer against.
 
In the decade since, I sought to support my students, and particularly my female students of color, in cultivating the types of positive mathematics identities that I had struggled to maintain throughout my own schooling. Drawing from Dr. Erica Walker’s (@EricaNWalker) research on mathematics identity, I designed student reflections around their experiences with and perceptions of mathematics, hoping that routinely integrating stories of diverse mathematicians and mathematics origins would gradually shift their own narratives. I implemented further lessons, developed in collaboration with my Math for America colleagues, around Imposter Syndrome – seeking to address the self-doubts that continued to haunt our less confident students even after they had experienced success in our classes. It was disheartening to realize this year that, once again, our most disengaged and struggling students were disproportionately young women of color. Even successfully completing the most challenging problems and communicating their strategies to peers yielded only fleeting improvements.
 
I had assumed until lately that my own mathematics identity had finally solidified, equipping me with sufficient tools to support my students along their own math journeys. It was just this semester, however – upon enrolling in my first mathematics course as a doctoral student – that I recalled how stubbornly and insidiously one’s mathematics anxieties endure. I chose to take a mathematical foundations course with a favorite professor, having loved and enrolled in nearly every available formal logic course and set theory course as an undergraduate. Even so, I found myself paralyzed with self-doubt over our first assignment before so much as looking at the problems. Only at my friend and classmate’s commitment to attend office hours together did I work up the courage to go – again, despite already knowing and liking our professor. It is doubtful that any praise of my mathematics skills or recounts of past successes would have reassured me.

With new insights into our students’ experiences, and in coming to understand one’s mathematics identity construction as an ongoing (perhaps lifelong) process, I am left wondering how to shift beyond merely positive math identities and toward what Dr. Ebony McGee (@RelationshipGAP) terms “robust” mathematics identities: ones grounded in authentic enjoyment of mathematics and internal motivations to succeed as opposed to, for instance, disproving stereotypes or making one’s family members proud (see Figure 1 below for a summary of McGee’s (2015) Fragile and Robust Mathematics Identity Framework). Perhaps one step toward this goal lies simply in supporting our students in building and maintaining mathematics learning communities of peers they can relate to, as Walker has articulated. I can attest to the benefits of not only talking through problems with one’s friends, but also of rallying together to attend office hours and laugh at the occasional micro-aggression.

 
– Nasriah Morrison [@nasriahmorrison]

 
Six Direct Actions: BHM Reading; Org Joining; Math Talks/Trails
 
The six direct actions below are:

A) Follow/read Mathematically Gifted & Black.
B) Read some/all of the Notices of the AMS Feb 2021 issue.
C) Donate to Lathisms’ fundraiser for nonprofit status.
D) Join TODOS and vote in their Board Election.
E) Sign up to give a talk through TMWYF, or convince others you know to do so.
F) Learn about Math Trails and consider whether you can implement them at your own learning site(s) in an action-oriented manner.
 
With February comes Black History Month. Many white people found themselves saying, hearing, reading, writing, or thinking about “anti-Blackness” for the first time ever within the past year. For some, this apparent reckoning was long, long overdue. Rather than BHM being a month long respite from what educators usually do, I hope to use this month to examine my year round practices and see where I have evolved and where I still need to focus.
 
Still, there are particular ways in which BHM is celebrated in mathematics communities; here are two:
 
A) Check the Mathematically Gifted & Black (MGB) twitter account for daily spotlights; their full February calendar is available here.
 
B) Check the Notices of the AMS February 2021 issue (PDF) which kicks off with “A Word From…” Robin Wilson.
 

 
The mention above should not be construed as implicit support for the AMS. (It is true that I support MGB!) You may wish to learn more about a recent occurrence at the AMS around a sub-optimally named fellowship, and the nastiness directed towards a targeted few after pointing out this problematic feature. There are some AMS members reconsidering whether to maintain membership at all. See, e.g., the comment here (more generally, you can search twitter by latest as done here).
 
Segueing to other organizations, here are two recommendations for direct actions that you can take:

C) Support LATHISMS (site; twitter) by donating to their fundraiser around forming a nonprofit organization.
 
D) Join TODOS (site; twitter) where there is currently an ongoing Board Election for President, Vice President, and Director. Only members can vote, and I can comfortably say that this has been the most worthwhile org membership I have purchased: position papers and webinars alone justify the very reasonable cost.
 

 
In my personal capacity as a TODOS member, I endorse (and have already voted for):
Florence Glanfield for President-Elect;
Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis for Vice President;
Marian Dingle (@DingleTeach) for Director.
 
Finally, two items on what I am doing personally with math talking/teaching:

E) I gave a talk through Talk Math With Your Friends (TMWYF) that can now be found on YouTube [see also this related thread on imposter syndrome, which connects to Nasriah’s writing above!]. Thanks to the organizers for inviting me, and I remind GMD readers that they are looking for other presenters: Check the previous GMD Newsletter from Sep 8 2020 for a TMWYF contribution. Who can you encourage to participate? [Note: I’ve also accepted an invitation to speak at an ISDDE Virtual Conference in March 2021 called Designing for Equity; the plenary address will be from Robert Berry, who was the first MGB honoree this year.]
 
F) I have continued to think about “Math Trails” – which have been around since at least the mid-1980s – and ways in which they can be oriented more towards justice. You can find some of my thinking around this in the context of Stars On A Flag threaded here. In particular, there is a trail item around considering the aesthetics of a star arrangement, but it arises in the context of flag design if a new state is admitted to the US. I argue that we cannot be content to think about statehood only in the abstract context of whether star arrangements are pretty – even as I love the depth of mathematics involved in such a question. This is why my current assignment, in which students are to write a math trail item, has two additional prompts:

  1. name a justice-oriented context to which their item connects, or in which they are interested;
  2. look up who their House Representative is, and check Congress dotgov to see what connects to their item/context.
 

 
Which of the six action items above, from A through E, can you commit to?
What other actions are you taking, or planning to take, one full month into 2021?
 
– Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]
 

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This Week at Global Math – 1/26/21







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Join Us Next Tuesday 2/2:

Partnering with Parents in Elementary School Math

Presented by Hilary Kreisberg and Matthew Beyranevand

In this session, you will deepen your understanding of parents’ needs and wants as they pertain to their children’s elementary mathematics education, as well as examine your own beliefs about partnering with parents. We will provide guidance for teachers and leaders on how to communicate with parents and caregivers, as well as offer practical tips that educators and school leaders can use immediately to systematically change their relationships with families.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

Recentering
 
In my geometry courses, I loved teaching triangle center points. (Thank goodness this is a group of self-defined nerds, or starting a post off with that might be a real problem). The idea that we can define center from multiple points at the same time defined by different constructions held deeper meaning. To me it signaled that when you measure from a particular perspective, you get a different result than other people who measure from a different point of view. The orthocenter, incenter, circumcenter, and centroid all result from measuring using different line segment constructions of triangles (altitudes, angle bisectors, perpendicular bisectors, and medians respectively). Each one of them has a different purpose within the triangle, and they each come with particular perspectives on defining “center”. Yet, some of them come with a rather peculiar placement within or even outside of the triangle body, like when you measure the orthocenter of a right triangle and it lands on the vertex. Calling these instances a “centerpoint” almost seems odd, and yet we know exactly what we’re measuring when we do so. 
 
I have been wondering. What are the different centerpoints in math education? I believe each of us is measuring from some centerpoint. How do you justify your reasoning for measuring by the centerpoint you choose? 
 
I believe that there are multiple centerpoints in mathematics education, just like within a triangle. I also believe that they *do not* nor ever will coincide in the same point. In my mind, each centerpoint of mathematics education, just like with triangles, measures something specific and different than the others. And, just like with the different centerpoints, there are benefits and consequences to measuring by the different points we choose. 
 
For many months, I have felt this recentering occurring in math education. It’s as if we are making a collective shift. For the past ten months, many have been asking, “What even is standardized testing measuring?”. For some, standardized testing is a centerpoint. To these people, it represents teaching to a “standard”, that they share no responsibility in defining, yet use as a marker for knowing whether or not their students are learning. As the consistent call that students are “behind” due to virtual learning echoes loudly, COVID-19 continues to erode that measuring by any sort of “standard” at this point is only measuring the difference in resources, funding, and access to internet, food, and health care. 
 
From a different angle, some might say that math education is centering the “be kind” movement, that as math teachers our ultimate job is to create kind citizens. This is important and inherently good. In the aftermath of the United States presidential inauguration and the events of January 6, we have to ask if centering kindness at the expense of justice measures the right thing. If, by trying to “be kind”, we become peacekeepers instead of peacemakers, we ultimately create “kind” citizens who are quiet when faced with overt acts of racism, sexism, ableism, and classism to maintain the status quo. For many, because they are at peace, kindness is an easy centerpoint to use, as they disregard the lack of peace and justice for others.
 
One last centerpoint I see in math education is learning/teaching math for social justice. Dr. William Tate wrote, “Until recently, embedding mathematics pedagogy within social and political contexts was not a serious consideration in mathematics education. The act of counting was viewed as a neutral exercise, unconnected to politics or society. Yet when do we ever count just for the sake of counting? Only in school do we count without a social purpose of some kind. Outside of school, mathematics is used to advance or block a particular agenda.” (Tate, 2013) This centerpoint, then, measures math education as students’ ability to use mathematics to change their world for the better, to act justly with mathematics. 
 
We know what the other centers have brought us. Centering on standardized testing has brought us a system focused on viewing every child as a number, using math to do more harm than good, all in the name of comparison. The centerpoint is nowhere near the center mass, and in fact measures the outer edge of learning. Why are we surprised when standardized testing reflects back to us that systems of injustice exist and can be quantified? 
 
Centering on the passivity of kindness allows more students to pass through our classrooms without being pushed to recognize the beauty that comes with diversity, that teaches students through the use of mathematics that “others” are whole beings worthy of respect and equal treatment. Why are we surprised then when “kindness’” is in reality a mask for whiteness, a mask quickly removed when moments of injustice occur? 
 
Why do we keep centering math education on centerpoints that produce outcomes that we know are not fair? Not equal? That do not promote justice or goodness? That maintain the status quo? With the decades of centering math education in these known spaces, what would it take to get the main body of educators to recenter to measure a new space? What would centering on math for social justice look like? How would you justify its centering? I think that the mainstream of math education has never taught math for social justice, and therefore we don’t know what our collective power could be if we measured from here. Maybe it’s time to recenter the purpose of math education to see if we can measure something new. 
 
Lauren Baucom
@LBmathemagician

A Few Lessons from Recent Research on Social Justice Mathematics
 
Because of the spotlight thrown on issues of racial injustice in the U.S. in the past few years, I have seen a renewed interest among math teachers in integrating such issues into curricula. I welcome this turn, because “to be silent about tragedy that affects your students is to render their feelings invisible” (@ArisWinger). However, I also wanted to share some of what we’re learning from research, because social justice mathematics teaching is not at all easy or straightforward.
 
There’s been a strong coalition of math folks working for social justice for decades (see, for example, Marilyn Frankenstein’s work, Gutstein & Peterson’s book), but many teachers still report that they feel ill-prepared to do this work. One reason is that it often seems to require intense curriculum writing; there may not be a wealth of resources ready to insert into an existing course. Not to mention, it is not a simple matter of taking a mathematical topic, finding a real-world injustice application, and creating a lesson. Instead, it can require exploring and learning about entirely new fields, and responding to students carefully so that students leave the lessons feeling empowered rather than overwhelmed. You might have to navigate resistance from parents, school administrators, and even students. 
 
Nevertheless, there are many reasons to engage in this work. Bartell (2013) argues that “the purpose of education is not to integrate those who are marginalized into existing society but rather to change society so that all are included” (p. 131). Math education, in this view, should prepare students to analyze and combat oppressive systems, strengthening their agency as change-makers. Moreover, research shows that social justice mathematics can help students feel empowered, both about mathematics and about injustice in society. For privileged students, social justice math can help them develop empathy for others. 
 
Some recent research offers other important insights for getting started: 
  • Focus on issues that students care about. One teacher in my (2020) study has learned through experience that some topics may be overwhelming for students, and can produce strong emotional reactions. Kokka (2017) also found that students who had faced similar challenges to what they were studying, such as struggling to pay rent, had “strong emotional reactions such as anger, sadness, worry, and frustration” (p. 73). Nasriah Morrison (@nasriahmorrison) told a similar story in a previous GMD post of being exhausted and retraumatized by a lesson on police brutality, highlighting the harm that can come from “the prospect of any students being made to complete a series of tedious calculations with the goal of assessing whether their lived experiences were truly ‘valid.’” Instead of using math to verify, for example, an issue of racism that students know very well is real, I recommend starting by asking students what problems they want to use math to explore. 
  • Think about local, not just national, issues of injustice. You might ask what systems students see holding people in their community back, and what questions they have about them. This can open up opportunities to mathematize aspects of their world that students are curious about and ready to explore. Gutstein (2007) argues that members of a community “have a clear and critical understanding of the political forces allied against them” (p. 111), so problem-posing pedagogies that draw on local issues can help students work on issues they are already invested in, knowledgeable about, and want to get better at combating. 
  • Ask students and families about their comfort level with challenging topics. The teacher in my study who realized that some students had a strong emotional reaction to her lesson decided in the future to give a survey to both parents and students previewing upcoming topics, and asking about their comfort level in discussing such topics. She also prepared alternatives for students who may have too close a personal experience with an issue of injustice.
  • Try to leave your own agenda behind. A teacher in Kokka’s (2017) study emphasized that her goal was not to change students’ minds, but rather to elicit students’ opinions and give them the tools to come to their own, mathematically-based conclusions. The teacher in this study asked strategic questions and encouraged students to gather mathematical evidence, only stepping in to guide when she needed to combat stereotypes or other harmful statements. 
  • Try to anticipate partial and problematic understandings that students may have. Another lesson that the teacher in my study said she had learned was that students may need scaffolding for not just the mathematical topic, but also the social injustice under study. In her first teaching of a lesson, she showed a brief video and then released students into groups to discuss a topic, only realizing later that students did not fully understand the topic and were discussing it in common but highly problematic ways. I recommend thinking about the worst narratives floating around society about that topic, and either preemptively providing information to combat those narratives, or at the very least developing a specific plan for how you’ll respond should they appear during your lesson. 
  • Find community! One of the most important lessons the teacher in my study stressed was that you should not try to go it alone in integrating math and social justice. She runs her lessons by her co-teachers and colleagues, but also recommends connecting with folks on twitter and at conferences. Many people have been engaged in this work for decades, and have much wisdom to share. Check out the Creating Balance Conference and the hashtags #SoJustMath & #socialjusticemath for starters. 
 
Finally, here are some other resources for getting started with social justice math:
Written by Samantha Marshall (@sammieamarshall)

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This Week at Global Math – 1/19/21




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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Tonight!

Building Fact Fluency Through Virtual Storytelling

Presented by Graham Fletcher

When we ask students to memorize their facts, we are essentially asking them to memorize over 100 isolated equations. This approach doesn’t allow students to explore the relationships between numbers that are foundational to mathematics. In this session, we’ll explore the important role that context plays in developing fact fluency. By purposefully sequencing a series of tasks and activities through the same context, students can begin to make connections and develop an understanding that is scalable well beyond single digits.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Volunteers Needed: Editor of Captioning for Webinars

We want our webinars to be accessible to everyone, but we need help to meet that goal.

The reason the Global Math Department community is so wonderful is because we have a solid group of volunteers working behind the scenes.  Since our webinars are free, we cannot afford software to caption the recordings of our webinars.  Captioning in YouTube works at times, but needs to be edited to be accurate.  If you have 4 hours a month that you could devote to editing the webinar captioning, please let us know. (If we have multiple volunteers we will distribute this workload!) 

Send an email to globalmathdepartment@gmail.com to express your interest in volunteering.  Training will be provided and you can work at your own pace.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

The Narcissism of Mathematics Education
 
In “The Narcissism of Mathematics Education”, Alexandre Pais says that “mathematics education research is narcissistic because, lacking a concrete object, it sees nothing but itself”.  Math education researchers who talk about “mathematics for all” turn a blind eye to the reality that many students are in math class for the school credit, and so mathematics is not actually “for all”. Instead, math education researchers—and by extension people interested in this research—create “an imaginary world where mathematics can be an adventure into knowledge, the ultimate problem solving technology or the most crucial component of critical citizenship”. 
 
The math education research community, as he claims, is sometimes so optimistic about the role of math in kids’ lives that we don’t stop to consider when kids may be in it for the grades and not the math. By subtracting from reality the economic role of school math, the research community flourishes under the illusion that math has inherent relevance while creating the very problems it seeks to address.
 
That’s quite the claim, and in response I say, cool, then let’s be narcissists. I don’t entirely agree with his argument. But even to the extent that he’s correct, it’s still an open question where this thinking takes us. The recent events at the Capitol and everything else kicking off 2021 make clear that taking a critical approach to mathematical, quantitative, statistical, scientific, and data literacy is now more important than ever. 
 
I think about a thread by Aristotle Ou, in which he, Jenna Laib, and Marian Dingle talk about asking students to feel and act in response to U.S. poverty rates and economic justice.
 
I think about the mathematics of machine learning algorithms, which have been used in AI technologies to perpetuate gender and racial bias. The Algorithmic Justice League has a new film, Coded Bias, which is screening in virtual theaters beginning this week.
 
I think about Kendra Pierre-Louis’s open question about how often the media covers white supremacists versus people who have experienced white supremacist violence.
 
I think about how many executions are happening now and how much racial bias continues to exist in a school-to-prison pipeline that can ultimately end in death.
 
I think about how $1400 is not enough and the mathematical models that have supported fiscal conservatism for the past four years.
 
I think about the minimum wage, teacher salaries, experiments around UBI, and the economic and mathematical “common sense” that drives repeated arguments against wage increases.
 
I think about the overwhelming whiteness of mathematics that results in this.
 
I think about this analysis of Paycheck Protection Program funding given to charter schools, religious schools, and private schools across the U.S.
 
I think about the spatial relationship between COVID fatalities and vaccinations in the U.S.
 
I think about pharmaceutical price hikes, bonus formulas, and what we let people do with math when we’re too preoccupied by whether the math is technically correct.
 
These mathematical questions matter. They touch students’ lives in ways that are sometimes hard to see and other times grievously easy. They are as real as grades and should be among the driving forces behind everything that goes on in math education. Sadly, this is not always the case.
 
@melvinmperalta

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This Week at Global Math – 1/12/2021







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Curated By Chase Orton (@mathgeek76)

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The Global Math Department Webinar resumes next Tuesday, January 19th!

Building Fact Fluency Through Virtual Storytelling

Presented by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

When we ask students to memorize their facts, we are essentially asking them to memorize over 100 isolated equations. This approach doesn’t allow students to explore the relationships between numbers that are foundational to mathematics. In this session, we’ll explore the important role that context plays in developing fact fluency. By purposefully sequencing a series of tasks and activities through the same context, students can begin to make connections and develop an understanding that is scalable well beyond single digits.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

The GMD Needs Your Input

Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD webinar, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Click Here to participate in this study

#GMDWrites

Gratitude
by Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)
 
Dwayne Reed’s (@TeachMrReed) pinned tweet on his Twitter page reads, “Even if you weren’t the best teacher today, chances are, you were still someone’s favorite. Keep at it.”
 
 
Humans in general are not the best at expressing gratitude. Sometimes we just assume that others know how we feel about them. Or at least we hope that they do perhaps based on what we do and how we act.
 
Angela Duckworth (@angeladuckw) shared some advice in an opinion article from Education Week (@EdWeekTeacher) called “What Your Students Will Remember About You.” She said:
          
Don’t assume that people who have changed your life know how much you appreciate them. What is obvious to you may be invisible to them.
 
Do start a tradition of writing gratitude letters to people you haven’t properly thanked. If you can, muster the courage to read your letter aloud. Perhaps your kids will see you wipe a tear from your eye. Perhaps you will have to explain why. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year.
 
Originally, I was drawn to the article because of the tag line, “The best teachers care about students unconditionally but, at the same time, ask them to do things they can’t yet do.” And I do think this article is a good reminder that pushing students out of their comfort zone is important. And even if at first they resist they will thank you for it because they know you care about them. But I think this article is also a good reminder of how important gratitude is. This gratitude should extend to yourself as well.
 
Minaa B. (@MinaaBe) is a writer and licensed therapist whose mission is to “help people cultivate healthy relationships with themselves and others by being intentional about practicing self-care through the lens of boundaries and community-care.” This is an image from her Instagram page.
 
 
It’s important to remember, especially after a week like last week, that our students need us. And in order to show up for them, sometimes we need to take care of ourselves. Show gratitude to yourself. “Even if you weren’t the best teacher today, chances are, you were still someone’s favorite. Keep at it.” (@TeachMrReed)

Active in 2020 & Proactive in 2021
by Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]
 
Among the many twitter-interactions I chanced upon in the first week of 2021, here is one that caught my eye [anonymized because this view runs deep]:

One more tweet:

Are math educators, as compared to other educators, especially “ill-equipped” for a “day after”? I speculate that the answer is No, and/but that there is a more widely held belief that it doesn’t fall into our purview — that the “quadratic formula” is too far from insurrections and coups to adjust, whereas a history teacher would have the knowledge and space to tweak their lesson so as to address the attack on Capitol Hill: an act of domestic terrorism that was encouraged by republican politicians, who knowingly support ecosystems of disinformation and conspiracy theories, and who now want us to unify(?) and heal(?) with racist, anti-Semtitic, violent, white supremacists who seek to invalidate an election based on unfounded claims of fraud. (No thanks!)
 
Educators have a responsibility to react by telling children the truth, and there is plenty to react to these days. The same Wall Street Journal to welcome Op-Eds that claim the outgoing prez* “champions U.S. liberty and prosperity” went on to target BIWOC through a hit piece on #DisruptTexts that followed its misogynistic “kiddo” policing of Dr. Jill Biden’s honorific. These “opinions” do not reach the national level of a “day after” but I wonder how well we are equipped to respond to them. I am not sure whether WSJ Op-Eds in 2021 will all require reaction, although I empathize with the many who feel that they are stuck in a cycle of inaction. Today, though, I want to talk about action.
 
These are a few actions that I have taken since 2020, and I transparently share a subset below in the hope that others who feel caught up in a reactive cycle can shift towards a proactive 2021:
 
  1. Donations. I made a few small adjustments last year: When others have offered to compensate me in some way, I have shifted from outright refusal to asking that they donate the amount that they believe is appropriate; the most recent three times that I have done this, I have pointed others to Found in Translation, which I hope the reader will check out. When this last occurred, it was after assisting a former colleague’s child with their non-routine Calculus homework; that is to say, I successfully converted assistance on an antiderivative to money that can help sustain a program designed for low-income women. Similarly, when I was asked to give a talk on justice in mathematics education during the stressful month of October 2020, I asked whether there was an honorarium; transparently, the NSF sponsored conference offered 1100 USD for a Zoom hour. So, I agreed to write and deliver the talk, and I gave the honorarium to six different Senate races. In other words, I successfully converted NSF math education funds into money that helped Democrats compete in the Senate. Lastly, I am of the belief that restrictions on stimulus checks (“stimmies”) should err on the side of Too Generous, and that those who receive these extra moneys while in the privileged position of not seeing a significant interruption in income should consider giving the money away. I gave my first stimulus check to a double-matching campaign organized around cash bail; I gave my second stimulus check to a local food bank. This is not to guilt the reader or flex on anybody; and, I think that if you are at a real loss for how you can engage in direct action, then donating money to trusted organizations is a good choice.
 
  1. Math Education. I have been contributing to the Global Math Department newsletters while also managing the GMD twitter account; this involves a fair amount of highlighting others’ powerful work, and has also – for those paying attention – involved a lot of proactive posts about elections (POTUS/VP in Nov 2020 and then Georgia in Jan 2021). Sometimes this means amplifying calls for action (e.g. from MoMath, which has yet to respond) and other times it means proactively thinking about boycotting ICM 2022 in Russia, or asking questions about ICME 2020 (now hybrid in 2021) in China as relates to ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang (thread). It also means that I am actively trying to incorporate Teaching Tolerance anti-bias standards into an Algebra 2 course, and that I am preparing to shift a junior/senior elective math course towards projects on, among other topics, Social Justice Math Trails. (Here are a subset of references compiled by a student who worked with me on a senior project last May around this topic; pull-quotes are in blue and her writing is in red.) There is plenty more to say here; off top, a shout out to the three people who reached out to me proactively over the winter break to Zoom around contemporary happenings (e.g. antiracist pushes in math education), as well as a separate shout out to Winger and Harris for their excellent book.
 
  1. School-based Organization. This is the one area in which I will avoid detailing specifics; suffice to say that Rochelle Gutiérrez’s paper Strategies for Creative Insubordination in Mathematics Teaching is a must-read. Other than that, I have continued in my capacity as one of the two faculty members taking part in our high school’s social justice club, and I volunteered my time during Fall 2020 to participate in an Anti-Racist Committee that consisted of various stakeholders (faculty; staff; admin; students; alums; families; trustees). This was at a time in which the outgoing prez* was using BDV to weaponize her position as EdSec in policing language (like “white privilege” or talking about race, gender) used by private universities; I have no doubt that, were the racist-in-chief to have been reelected, we would have seen this tactic pushed out further (e.g. targeting public schools directly and threatening non-profit status for independent schools). I plan to push our collective AR recommendations hard in this calendar year, and one of my 2021 goals is to stop recreating mission statements and guidelines.
 
  1. Political Candidates. The four areas here are not mutually disjoint, and/but I have grown tired of the superhuman rhetoric around Stacey Abrams. To be clear, Abrams’ work is transformative and extraordinary; yet, she is fully human – not “super”human – and, as she would tell you, there are many whose collective work went into “Georgia’s evolution.” Therefore, to those of you who are looking at organizing and potential political candidates for 2022, I strongly urge you to learn more about Danielle Allen as she looks into running for Governor of Massachusetts. Watch this video (2m18s) and check out her site. There is a republican gov in MA now, and here we have a Democrat Black woman with two doctorates (Cambridge University, Harvard University) who worked with a transdisciplinary team on a Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience produced through the Safra Center for Ethics of which she is the director. I have read through two of Allen’s books: one containing original research on the Declaration of Independence and another about her firsthand experiences with the criminal in/justice system and her incarcerated cousin (Adichie calls it “unbearably moving”). A supporter of RCV and MacArthur Fellow; an organized thinker who can govern based on institutional experience as well as lived experience; I hope that you will learn more and consider signing up under the site’s Take Action tab.
 
Let us push to effect proactive, collectivist change in 2021.

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This Week at Global Math – 12/15/20







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Tonight!

Wonder, Plan, Run, Reflect: Action Research in the Math Classroom

Presented by Theresa Hickey

Being a responsive educator means getting to know your learners, leveraging their strengths, and tailoring your approaches so that the highest level of learning can take place. To do this, you need to try new things. But how will you know if your adjustments are making a difference?…. Action research! Join us for some great tips on designing and running this research in your own classroom!
 

To register for this webinar, click here.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

We Who Believe
By: Hema Khodai (@HKhodai)
 

Why do I write for the Global Math Department Newsletter? When I’m stuck in life and unsure of the next right thing I turn to the children, who never fail to lead the way even as they are continually failed by us.
 
Bean leads me daily and I marvel at the decisions she makes, the ways she engages with this world, and her resolve to be a part of the good this life has to offer. As I write this, she is leading me in a graduate-level seminar on writing (she knows I’m only half listening); selecting a font that captures her mood and sets the context for her story, authentically representing the essence of the characters and their lives, and illuminating the harsh and beautiful truths of the world we live in.
 
“Do you ever write to share information or convince others of an important idea?”, I ask.
Her response is precise, “I want my writing to reflect the person I am.” She continues generously, “My stories remind you that people who do bad things aren’t bad people. My characters and I, we’re not afraid to do things to help people.  The system is garbage sometimes. (It’s important for my writing to bring that to light.)”
 
So here I am, sharing with you a story that is true in mathematics councils and associations across the continent. I am tired of being the only. In this story, folx rigorously defend the superiority of mathematics over people while performing a charade of “wokeness”. I tell you the people “leading” the work have not done the work and have no interest in the work beyond maintaining their status and power as leaders in mathematics. They have not studied Black scholars nor invested time and energy into authentic relationships with racialized folx whose demands for humane experiences in the teaching and learning of mathematics are largely ignored. They merely apply thick layers of whiteness onto calls for liberation and abolition and parrot quotations from Dr. Dena Simmons that we can’t let SEL turn into “White Supremacy with a hug”. They continue to center the curriculum (standards in America) rooted in settler colonialism and anti-Blackness and promote resources (curriculum in America) that are not created by Indigenous, Black, and racialized (PoC in America) folx. These are not bad people. They just do incredibly bad things. 

The characters in this story, of whom I am one, are not afraid to name the mathematical processes of gatekeeping in mathematics education. Processes that stop short at representation and continue to silence voices that seek justice for entire generations and communities of children underserved and disempowered in mathematics classrooms. These are the folx who would argue with me about whether Rochelle Gutierrez is actually Dr. Gutiérrez rather than read her work to understand how mathematics education in its current form is dehumanizing. The ones who flinch at the suggestion of using the seminal works of a Black scholar.  Help me understand, an article from 2009 by a Black scholar is “outdated” but a mathematical trajectory from thirty years ago is “timeless”? I’m kidding, I don’t care to understand your racism.
 
Systems of mathematics education are garbage most times and especially so during a pandemic that mocks your repeated attempts at “academic integrity”, “abolition of streaming”, and all the other things that keep you from doing the real work of loving kids. But off you go to prepare your Slides, activities, and cool Bitmoji classrooms, the trappings of an ‘anti-racist’ mathematics education that hasn’t liberated you or the kids.
 
I’ll tell you this folx, I’ll be back in 2021 to continue this story of we who believe in freedom.
 

Lessons for the After Times
 
These last nine months have been…not normal. We’ve changed and adapted almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives and dealt with immeasurable loss and grief. At times, it seems like everything is awful (and truly, many things are awful).
 
But throughout these Corona Times, I’ve wondered: Are there things that we’re doing now that we can hold onto, even after the pandemic is over? Things that will serve us well in the After Times?
 
An obvious answer is that we’re learning to use technology to capture students’ thinking. I teach pre-service math teachers, and my students have been learning how to use all sorts of new technology in their student-teaching placements. They’re using video tools like SeeSaw and FlipGrid to capture students’ mathematical thinking. This has given them more thorough explanations than when students were working with just pencil and paper, especially for early elementary students who can say a lot more than they tend to write. They’re also planning interactive and exploratory lessons with PearDeck and Desmos, especially in secondary placements. Tools like these show us what students are thinking about during the lesson, and they give students multiple ways of engaging (even with their videos off). 
 
We’re turning to these technologies out of necessity — because it’s so much harder to know what students are thinking when we only see them in a little Zoom box. But even when we can see each other face-to-face, what insights into student thinking can tech tools offer? What new learning opportunities can we foster?
 
But even beyond the tech, I think (I hope?) we’re learning to cut each other (and ourselves!) some slack. Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently — and struggling in different ways — but it’s been a hard year for everyone. As a result, I’ve noticed that, when assignments are missing or emails go unread, folks are starting to ask “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?” We’re checking in with empathy, instead of assuming that others are being negligent or lazy. Perhaps because we’re going through a collective trauma, we’re more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt. 
 
I hope that we can continue doing that, even when there’s not a global pandemic. Even in “normal” times, students and colleagues are dealing with death and loss, racism and other systems of oppression, food and housing insecurity, physical and mental health crises, and existential dread. What would the world look like if our default was to reach out with kindness and concern?
 
We’re also learning to connect in new ways — and to disconnect when we need to. Personally and professionally, we’ve been able to connect with folks from afar. We can join webinars and conferences without worrying about the cost or time of travel. We’ve been celebrating birthdays and graduations and weddings (and funerals) with loved ones that we don’t usually get to see. And the flip side of spending so much time online is that we have to disconnect, too. It’s become even more important than ever before to take breaks from the screen and to get some fresh air. 
 
Some of these have come out of sheer necessity — singing “Happy Birthday” on Zoom because it’s too dangerous to gather together or taking a tech break because we simply can’t bear to look at a screen for another moment. But what if we can continue having joyful moments with far-flung friends and family? What if we can maintain boundaries for our work-life balance?
 
Of course, none of this negates what we’ve been through, what we’re going through, or what is yet to come before the pandemic is over.
 
But I’m holding onto hope: Hope that we can let go of practices that weren’t really serving us in the Before Times. Hope that we will make it through these Corona Times. Hope that we can re-imagine and build a more humane After Times.

Written by Brette Garner (@brettegarner

Encountering Boundaries of Human and STEM: 
Some Wonderings as Told Through Six Panels

 
Two tweets caught my attention this week (images are linked): 

Inspired by these tweets and a few other thoughts I’ve been sitting with for a while, I wanted to process some wonderings through six panels.
 
Thanks for reading the GMD in 2020. See you next year.
 
@melvinmperalta

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This Week at Global Math – 12/8/20







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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No Webinar this Week!

Next Tuesday 12/15

Wonder, Plan, Run, Reflect: Action Research in the Math Classroom

Presented by Theresa Hickey

Being a responsive educator means getting to know your learners, leveraging their strengths, and tailoring your approaches so that the highest level of learning can take place. To do this, you need to try new things. But how will you know if your adjustments are making a difference?…. Action research! Join us for some great tips on designing and running this research in your own classroom!
 

To register for this webinar, click here.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

Swimming in Water: Carceral Pedagogy in the Math Classroom 
 
By: Lauren Baucom and Sara Rezvi

Poetry has a way of cutting to truth, of separating waves from the shorelines all the while observing both simultaneously.  In his powerful poem, Guante notes that ‘white supremacy is not the shark, it is the water’. We swim in it, we are surrounded by it – these heady waters, this deep throbbing silence. Because of its constant presence, for many, it goes unnoticed, the water set as an unquestionable background. So, too, is the everpressing presence of carceral pedagogy in educational spaces. As writers of GMD, we refuse to participate in this silence. We mourn loudly. We bear witness deeply. We grieve. And we demand that these ideologies have no place within the mathematics classroom.
 
What is carceral pedagogy? How does it intersect with the mathematics classroom? What does it look, sound and feel like? Like the words of Guante, will we ever know it exists if we do not take time to recognize the waters in which we are constantly surrounded?
 
In a recent #Slowchat, Dr. Ilana Horn (@Ilana_horn) defined carcerality as “the physical domination and confinement of bodies in institutions, especially when they reinstate white supremacy.” Elsewhere, Dr. Bettina Love (@BLoveSoulPower), has discussed carcerality as systemic domination imposed by laws and enforced by incarceration. For the purpose of this piece, we define carceral pedagogy in the mathematics classroom to be the physical, mental, and social domination presented by the systems of white supremacy through laws, written and unwritten, that confine students’ bodies, minds, and spirits in the dehumanizing experiences  of their mathematics education. 
 
 In this moment of virtual teaching when teachers have a voyeuristic ability to track, watch, and mandate policies through their surveillance apparatus of choice (ClassDojo, Zoom, Google Meets, etc), we’ve experienced how EduTwitter has taken the purpose of education as a source of liberation and used this time and space to incarcerate students’ minds and bodies through a system of compliance and oppression. Children are subjected to the ever-present disciplinary gaze of the carceral teacher. Some examples include: (1) when they can’t visit the bathroom in their own homes, (2) being forced to turn on cameras to be counted as present, and (3) being told not to eat in class when their caregiver offers them a snack. We must name these efforts of carcerality as they have quickly seeped into this new world of online learning during a pandemic. Rather than offering grace, compassion, and boundless love, carceral teachers have led the charge in creating spaces that invade privacy and invalidate the need to attend to growing bodies.
 
Simultaneously, we must revisit the mathematics classroom space of face-to-face teaching to understand how carcerality has been used in the past to oppress the bodies and minds of students. 
 
In many classrooms, we have been sold the myth that students from low income areas require carceral style classroom pedagogy in order to succeed, and that without this type of oppression, they aren’t capable of doing the work. This kind of ideology is rooted in systems of white supremacy and dehumanization. We reject the narrative that the carceral teacher (who often is white) alone knows what is best for families and children of color. It is not the children that are lacking, but the carceral teacher. 
 
There has been much research to show how students of color, specifically Black girls, have been denied their right  to joyfully belong in math spaces. Using the ocrdata.ed.gov site, we can find countless examples of the literal barriers that imprison students to classes that are unworthy of their brilliance. How is it possible that in a district where almost 4 out of 10 of the students enrolled are Black, that less than half are allowed entry into Calculus classrooms? What unwritten laws govern the body language of students who appear “deep in mathematical thought” versus those who are “lazy, unproductive, and unmotivated”, physically barring them from mathematical spaces? We find it interesting that these narratives begin for students of color at young ages and continue onward into adolescence, almost as if these ideas are baked into our societal consciousness – as if we are all swimming in it.

Carceral pedagogy is often thought of to be discipline-based classroom practice, but it is also curricular. With the constant reminder from textbooks that mathematics was created in Europe by White males and no one else, the lack of representation confines students’ minds and social identities. Texts such as Francis Su’s (@mathyawp)  ‘Mathematics for Human Flourishing’ and Talithia Williams’ ‘Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics’ eloquently work to decenter this notion that mathematics has only ever been a Eurocentric endeavor rather than a Human one. Elsewhere, I (Sara) along with my co-authors, have argued that mathematics, just like literacy, needs to have its own set of windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors.  
 
Another example of carcerality that appears in the mathematics curriculum occurs when a teacher requires a particular method of solving, rather than being open to the expansive, liberatory solving process that mathematics encourages. 
 
Carceral classrooms are about control; when we try to control students’ thinking we create a low/no-trust environment with students that entraps their minds and eliminates the need for creativity, ingenuity, and authentic, original thought. 

How is it that this meme can be so readily found when we describe math classrooms? That this concept of illegality in alternative thinking is synonymous with math classrooms, rather than the liberatory experience we know mathematics to be?
 
In closing, we reflect on the immediacy and urgency of Arundathi Roy’s quote. The pandemic is a portal. How we swim through it or whether we drown in it, is up to us. Where it leads to is up to us. We engage deliberately in the practice of freedom dreaming, of imagining a world beyond the violence enacted upon children in mathematics classrooms. 
 
We are swimming in rough waters these days, full of murky sediment, glimpsing blearily into the unknown void. We have named here the silence, the complicity of holding onto dysfunctional systems that dehumanize children in the name of carcerality, of disciplinary productivity that seeks to mandate how we engage in mathematics (and beyond) as human beings.  We ask the reader to consider the following – If we are more aware of the water, is that enough? Is our awareness enough? Do we keep swimming? Or do we change the scope of our navigations?

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

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This Week at Global Math – 12/1/20







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Webinar Tonight! — December 1st, 2020

Bringing the Math Back: Lessons in Educational Recovery from Around the World

We’ve been told repeatedly that we are teaching in unprecedented times, but in fact this is not the first round of education recovery post-natural disaster in modern times. We will look at lessons from around the world and how various nations reshaped their mathematics classrooms after interruptions due to disease, war, and weather-related phenomena. In these stories of resilience and innovation, we will imagine how our own classrooms may be reimagined in the wake of Covid-19.

Presented by: Brianna Kurtz

To register for this webinar, click here.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

The Definition of Smart
 

I have been grappling with the idea of “smart” this year. Who do we consider “smart”? What fields of study do we consider the realm of “smart” people? (Mathematics is high on that list.) How are “smartness” and school success and fulfillment in life related?

I don’t have answers yet, but I came across a definition by Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) that has shifted my thinking:
 

“Smart is only a construct of correspondence between one’s ability, one’s environment, and one’s moment in history. I am smart in the right way, in the right time, on the right end of globalization.”

 
I love Tressie’s definition and until something better comes along, this is the definition I’m working with. Mostly, I appreciate the recognition of “smart” being relational, as opposed to some kind of Platonic ideal. Smart as a construct of correspondence also fits nicely in the constellation of ideas that have been helping me grow as a math educator: (1) rehumanizing mathematics (Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez, @RG1gal); (2) unlearning deficit frameworks, particularly “current conceptions” (Dr. Maria Zavala @mdrzavala); and (3) redefining who is a math person (Howie Hua, @howie_hua).

Behind all of these ideas is the understanding that we are constructing mathematics, and we are constructing our measures of success (smartness). And therein lies our power: In accepting that these are things we make, we can decide to make something different. If we value different abilities (persistence over speed), and create different environments (collaboration over competition), we will produce different definitions of smart. The power is in knowing that our current definitions of both smart and mathematics are the result of decisions made by humans, and that we can make new decisions.
 
Two last things about this sentence: “I am smart in the right way, in the right time, on the right end of globalization.”

  1. I appreciate the humility in this definition. We could all use a bit of humility when thinking about our smarts.
  2. Acknowledging our moment in history feels like a call to action. How many “smart” people are we losing to the wrong side of all manner of structural violences?

Big, challenging questions, but I believe in our ability to figure them out together – we are a smart bunch.

by Idil Abdulkadir (@idil_a_)

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Idil for being this week’s guest writer! Have an interest in writing for the Global Math Department Newsletter? Check out the invitation at the end of this Newsletter.
 

Focusing on the Positive

“It’s human nature to focus on the negative, but often a lot more is going right in your classroom than is going wrong.”

2020 has been a tough year to say the least, but good things are happening in 2020—we just might need a shift in perspective to help us see them. Simply learning how to look at a situation from a different point of view can change our negative interpretations to more positive ones.

With this in mind, I want to share this 2018 article by Patricia Jennings and MindShift (@MindShiftKQED) called “Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom.”

  

I invite you to give a read. And then take a look around you. What are some good things that are happening this year? How can we look at 2020 with a positive perspective?

by Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)

Thorn, Rose, Rosebuds
 

For this week’s entry in the Global Math Department newsletter, I’m keeping it simple by adhering to the “thorn, rose, rosebud” framework: one thing that’s no good; one thing that’s good and happened; and two things that are good and on the horizon.

Thorn 
Ellie Murray (below), Dave Kung (tweet) and others (e.g.) drew attention to a print ad from AT&T in the NYTimes. It is nice that the response to “thorny” ads like these is swift, but there were surely numerous points from brainstorming to publishing during which this could have been interrupted. I’m all for the call out, and/but: If you find yourself somewhere in the pipeline with the opportunity to disrupt before materials like these appear, be the one who speaks up!

Rose
As mentioned in a past newsletter, the Fields Institute planned and held its LGBTQ+ Math Day!


You can read more about the event in the AMS Inclusion/Exclusion blog post or on the event page (site hosted by Anthony Bonato). Relatedly, check out the sequence of tweets from Laurie Rubel here.
 
Rosebuds
Marian Dingle is giving a talk this Friday! It is entitled “Opening the Mathematical Gates: Moving Toward Inclusivity and Belonging,” and if past talks are any indication, it will most surely be worth your time. You can visit the talk page or find it in the tweet below (note the timing: Friday, December 4th, at 8PM EST):

Finally, the United States is at an exciting turning point such that a weaponized Department of Education, headed by unqualified republican megadonor / “shoot the grizzly bears” betsy devos, is transitioning to an incoming administration that will have a First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who holds a doctorate in education! The new administration has a “Join Us” website, and so I am personally urging YOU as a reader of the Global Math Department newsletter, if eligible to work in the United States, to consider submitting your CV/resume for consideration. A government, like any organization, is only as strong as its people; perhaps nothing will come from it, but I believe that an influx of applications by GMD readers would be a step in the right direction:

by Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

The Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Click Here to participate in this study

Get Involved with the Newsletter

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With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

 

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