My vision for a new semester

I shared this in my email blast, but I thought it was worth reiterating here in full for those of you who are more blog-reading types.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking throughout the semester, and the last couple days over break. More and more I feel like while what we’re aiming for with students is right, it doesn’t express clearly enough the fact that a commitment to social justice demands that we accomplish these things.

I’ve got my vision recreated below. I encourage you to read about it, and while you’re relaxing this break, consider what you think of it–and what it would look like to live up to it, in your math classroom. This quick overview is a great introduction to what it can look like to pursue social justice in your classroom.

Teachers and students will understand that, given their political position and projected outcomes, Mississippi’s low-income (and particularly African-American) students both need and deserve an education that empowers and inspires.

 

As math teachers who serve these students, it is our moral imperative to provide an education that…

  1. Is academically rigorous and participatory, building their sense of purpose and ability to ask critical questions.
    • Providing units and lessons that challenge our students to pose (and answer) critical questions, and pushes them to challenge, make real decisions, and solve collective problems.
    • Using assessments (and especially performance tasks) aligned to this level of rigor.
    • Continuing to increase the sense of mathematical agency (and agency generally) that our students feel—so that they understand that they hold personal power and knowledge, and that these are not just things given to them.
  2. Helps students feel safe (physically, psychologically, and intellectually) as they work together to establish a collective voice.
    • Provide clarity to our students about what they are doing—and why they are doing it in ways that are meaningful and authentic and providing structures that allow for collaboration.
    • Building a sense of respect and love between and among the teacher, students, and the community.
    • Continuing to increase the amount of productive student thinking and talking in our classrooms, including both student writing and student discussion in whole and small group settings.
  3. Is grounded in our own ever-growing understanding of the issues that affect our students and communities.

 

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