This may look like an ordinary butterfly to you, but there’s a story behind it.
This beautiful 3D printed butterfly reminded me that someone hasn’t forgotten about me.
A Student walked in yesterday and said: “Ms. Seward, I made this for you with my 3D printer!”
I looked at it, said ‘Thank you’ and placed it on my desk. I couldn’t stop thinking about this butterfly lastnight. And of course, I’m honored that a Student made me a gift.
During the Summer of 2021 I was supposed to attend Park City Math Institute (PCMI) to participate in a Rehumanizing Mathematics Institute with Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez. If you do not know her or her amazing work, please look into both!
Due to Covid, the institute was postponed. My cohort ended up doing our work online last Summer. Despite the virtual aspect, I ‘met’ some wonderful Teachers and Professors. More importantly, I gained a new perspective on Math experiences for Black and Indigenous Students.
For my program project, I chose to relate the journey of Math (noun) and Mathing (verb) to that of the Monarch butterfly’s annual journey through the U.S. and eventually to Michoacan (central Mexico). Too often in K12, we treat every year of Math instruction as a separate event from the one prior and that which follows. As a Math Teacher, I’ve spent a lot of energy on making sure Students were prepared for the next part, without taking enough time to enjoy the journey. I guess because I understand the ‘system’ and how Students are grouped, which courses are available based on test scores, etc., my primary focus has been on preparing them to hurdle some of the obstacles. I did what I thought was best, at that time.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Dr. Maya Angelou
After spending time learning from and with Dr. Gutiérrez and Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, I was eager and ready to do better.
Doing ‘better’ in an assessment and speed-driven system can sometimes look like slow progres (to me). Sometimes the progress appears stalled; there are endless obstacles. That is one of the reasons I was unsure about returning.
I felt that I could not do ‘better’ in a system that was never designed for the success of Black and Indigenous Students. The system that does not recognize identities of intentionally marginalized folx, including their Teachers, is a system that does not want to see us succeed. Or enjoy the journey.
I know someone…some ancestor sent that child to be in my class this year.
The year that has been the hardest for me to find that joy for teaching I once had.
I have not uttered a single solitary word about Monarch butterflies to a soul in this building. Ever.
Someone knew I needed a reminder more than I knew I needed one.
Someone is rooting for me.
Someone wants me to enjoy this journey with this group of Students, challenges and all.
Someone hasn’t forgotten about me.