This Week at Global Math – 11/17/20


Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions


PCMI in the Time of Pandemic

Presented by Monica Tienda and Barbara Lynch

The Park City Math Institute (PCMI) is an intensive 3-week residential conference that’s been around in some form or another for 30+ years. The Teacher Leadership Program of PCMI offers a phenomenal professional opportunity for classroom teachers unlike anything else around. The global pandemic may have interfered with 2020, but come see what’s up for PCMI 2021!

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.


Centering #BlackMathWeek
Highlighted By: Sara Rezvi (@arsinoepi)

This month’s contribution to GMD seeks to highlight the grace, vulnerability, brilliance, and joy of #BlackInMathWeek
With permission from the organizers, I write here on why it matters to highlight and uplift these stories (especially as a non-Black person of color), and the importance of centering and standing in solidarity with Black mathematicians, math educators, and math ed scholars. 
Dr. Noelle Sawyer shares the following about #BlackInMathWeek and why it was created: 
Black in Math Week was November 8th – 13th, 2020! It was a week on Twitter to celebrate community among and uplift Black mathematicians. Black in Math Week is a part of a series of “Black in X” Weeks. They started with Black Birders Week after a white woman called the police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park. You can find the page at @BlackInMath on Twitter. Throughout the week, the twitter page highlighted profiles of Black mathematicians, Black Mathematicians in the media, advice to aspiring mathematicians, a focus on Black math educators, and all culminated on a movie night on Friday November 13th with the Netflix Movie: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. A few of the organizers for the week were Marissa Loving (@MarissaKawehi), Candice Price (@916ice), Noelle Sawyer (@blkmathmagic), and Dwight Anderson Williams II (@mathdwight). If you’re interested in checking out what happened during Black In Math Week, search the tag #BlackInMathWeek for general posts, #BlackInMathRollCall to find Black mathematicians on twitter, #BlackInMathMedia to find appearances of Black mathematicians in the media, and #MyBlackMathJourney to see the stories that Black mathematicians shared about how they’ve gotten to where they are today.

Here are some must-read threads to check out:

Anna Gifty’s (@itsafronomics) powerful thread on representation and the microaggressions that occur in schooling and childhood connects to how racism and exclusion in math is reproduced. 
This tweet from @BlackInMath highlighting Dr. Candice Price’s (@916ice) work in mathematics by meeting a mathematician virtually. In the vieo Dr. Price talks about protein folding, topology, and network theory in environmental studies along with her WHY for becoming a mathematician.  #BlackInMathMedia
LaShonda Mackey (@msmackeymath) writes here on the importance of being seen mathematically by teachers and the impact of being challenged above and beyond a standard curriculum.
This thread from Dr. Brook Alemayehu (@bta77) on challenges, pushing through, intellectual humility, and finding a passion for teaching mathematics. 


Some ways you can center #BlackInMathWeek: 

  1. Have students read Dr. Candice Price’s Favorite Theorem Blog post on Scientific American and give students the opportunity to reflect on favorite theorems or math observations of their own! This can be done for any age. Alternatively, there is a podcast. Check out: My Favorite Theorem Podcast ft John Urschel
  2. Read through #MyBlackMathJourney. The hashtag offers insights on the realities of learning mathematics as a Black person.
    1. What are some common themes reflected here? Why does that matter?
    2. How can non-Black people show solidarity and push back against Black peers, colleagues and classmates being silenced, belittled, or harmed in math spaces? 
    3. How should mathematicians openly discuss the realities of racism in mathematics (and beyond)? What internal work and self-interrogation needs to be done? 
  3. Listen to Black Math Ed Scholars and check out #BlackInMathEd. Create a watch party with other teachers at your school and have a conversation about the insights brought forth here by the scholars linked below: 


The election and its aftermath are a mirror – one in which white people in particular, and NBPOC need to look at our reflections. We live in a country that is built on stolen land and stolen people, on genocide, enslavement, and the torture of Black people and of this country’s continued inability to reckon with that truth. The erasure, fragility, and defensiveness that ensues from this fact is why there were alt-right, white supremacist parties marching in the nation’s capital this weekend. 
How do these realities impact how you are interacting with Black students? What do they see when you say nothing in your math spaces? Math is and always has been political in the United States. The right to study fully, to equal access to education, to qualified teachers that see the full humanity and brilliance of Black children has remained out of reach both historically and in the present day. 
What are some ways that you can do better for Black people? Today? Tomorrow? Daily? Without gain for self? Without centering you? Without co-optation or commodification? 
How can you approach this work with humility, grace, and a genuine desire to do better (even if you might mess up)? None of us can do this alone, but it is incumbent upon us to NOT leave our current realities alone either.  

One of our Own

Last Saturday, on November 7th, the majority of news outlets following the election polls called the 2020 election for Joe Biden as the 46th elected President of the United States of America. And while educators may have been divided over the outcome of the election, there seemed to be a common chorus coming from teacher groups across the nation.


Betsy Devos, who served as the Secretary of Education, was consistently ranked as President Trump’s most unpopular Cabinet Secretary. Unfortunately, she was also one of the few who never got fired, making her tenure as SoE one of the longest. Her goal of dismantling public education through the use of corporate capitalism was met with constant resistance from educators across the system.


One of the reasons Betsy came under constant scrutiny from the education field was because of her lack of experience in a school setting. Devos was never a teacher, never worked in a school position, and visited very few schools in her time as SoE. In the last year of the pandemic, Devos used her political agenda to pressure schools to open full time, and then used the resistance from that decision to push for school choice options that allow federal, public funds to be used in charter and private schools, without accountability.


On November 7th, for the first time in a long time, educators heard an encouraging message involving public schools. President-Elect Joe Biden said, “Jill’s a military mom, an educator. She’s dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does. It’s who she is. For American educators, this is a great day for you all. You are going to have one of your own in the White House.” [emphasis added]
Whether Dr. Biden will have as much influence on education policy as has been anticipated will remain in question. But I can’t help but think of the relationship I have with my own spouse, and hope. My husband works in another social sector of agriculture. Our jobs are very different, and yet, over the course of our marriage we have found many common threads. 
After long days of teaching, I would come home and share my heart with him for my students; sometimes joyful, sometimes in sorrow. He has laughed with me at the jokes my students have told, and held my hand as I cried for the students that I lost. He listened as I told him how frustrated I was with the systemic injustices found in education, and vowed to help me find a way to help. Through those many conversations, he noticed how his work changed, how he began to humanize the people he was working with, to open doors for more people, to disrupt injustices head on. 
I’ll never forget the time we were with some friends who were championing school choice being open to all students because of the positive experiences they had with their own children. We listened quietly as several people advocated for the lack of accountability in school funding. During that conversation, he caught my eye, gave me a side smirk, and a wink. He knew I was ready to dismantle that entire conversation. And when the pause in conversation came, I didn’t hear my voice first. I heard his. “Well, actually…”
And then, I listened to the spouse of an educator speak to the alternative side of school choice with facts, statistics, and known injustices as if he had spent years studying. And in fact, he had. He not only listened to me, watched series with me like “America To Me”, but he took to researching so he was knowledgeable on his own. 
I remember riding home that night and asking him how he knew all that stuff about education. His response was, “Well, I guess when you’re married to an educator, you realize how important education really is, and it moves you.” 
This is my prayer for President-Elect Joe Biden. I hope that Biden himself has been moved by Dr. Jill Biden, simply by listening to her stories about teaching, to her frustrations with the system, and to her heart as an educator. I hope he goes home after hard days to hear her stories, and to remember why he needs to fight hard for teachers, students, and public schools. I hope he remembers he has someone who has done the work in the White House with him. And I hope that Biden’s administration and work in education policy show a direct link back to his being married to an educator, that he would see just how important education really is. 
She doesn’t have to be the next Secretary of Education for that hope to exist. She can simply be Dr. Jill Biden, married to Joe Biden, President-Elect of the United States of America.


Lauren Baucom

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