More than a year has passed since I attended the Rehumanizing Math Summer Intensive at Park City Math Institute (PCMI) in Utah. Initially, I was part of the cohort scheduled to attend in July 2020, but Covid…
Our group eventually met online to carryout the intended purpose of the mission: Learning about Rehumanizing Math and working towards shifting our practices. Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez arranged for our group to attend the in-person conference last July. To say that opportunity was a lifeline, would be an understatement. I was very close to not returning to the classroom for another year because I had simply had enough; more importantly, teaching was no longer enjoyable. If you follow me on Twitter, you have an idea of what I experienced in my current role. Nevertheless, I returned. Workplace microaggresions aside, it turned out to be a good year. My students experienced tremendous growth, both academically and socially.
I, however, did not make gains towards either Rehumanizing Math practices or implementing a Culturally Relevant Teaching framework. Unless I count simply being a Black, woman Math Teacher who showed-up. In that regard, we all won.
But have we (K12 Educators) lost the plot with regard to ‘rehumanizing’ Math practices for Black, Hispanic/Latine, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ students? How much of our work is actually culturally affirming? Social media, for all its benefits, has also become a place where people can control the narrative and post only what they want others to see. This is very evident in the K12 community. There are people who talk about equitable practices, SEL, and the amazing things they are doing in the classroom. But every once in awhile, I find myself asking (myself): What’s it like for the Black Teacher(s) in their building? Do they even have any? Are their voices silenced or discounted in meetings? How is their expertise valued?
I can ask those questions because I’ve been in those meetings.
I have been that Black Teacher, whose voice was silenced…unless Admin was present.
Any time I remind monolingual folks that it typically takes someone up to 8 years to become fluent in another language, I’m met with “I don’t have time to learn another language” or “We were told to just teach in English and they are supposed to get it.” My all-time favorite is “I just have another Spanish-speaking student help them.”
Because Child Labor Laws don’t exist inside of a classroom.
Any attempts at rehumanizing Math practices must occur in these environments, even at the risk of running-up against those extremist mom groups. I know they are making their way to our area; it’s simply a matter of time.
Any attempts at presenting a Culturally Relevant Learning environment must occur in these environments.
Most days it is an uphill battle due to the simple fact of not having enough (contracted) time. We don’t have these conversations during contracted hours.
Also because not everyone has the range.
We have definitely lost the plot because the spotlight is no longer on being equitable or anti-racist or without bias.
There are no longer accountability metrics in place to ensure all students see themselves reflected in both school staff make-up and mandated curricula.
For those of us that want to see these things come to fruition: How do we move forward? How do we find the time to develop our curricula and teaching practices to better serve marginalized students?
If you are currently in a place that provides support for this work, beyond a book-a-month superficial level, I’d be interested in hearing from you.
Thanks for reading!