Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris

Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Student Names

August 25, 2020 Pam Harris Episode 10
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Student Names
Chapters
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Top 3 Things to Start the Year: Student Names
Aug 25, 2020 Episode 10
Pam Harris

As the world prepares for one of the most interesting beginnings to the school year, Pam and Kim are here to help us get it right. They start off this 3 part series by dialing in on the importance of using students names. Find the transcripts HERE.
Talking Points:

  • A maternal mathy person
  • How Pam learns student names
  • Useful tools and tips for using student names in a remote setting
  • How to help students use each others names

Resources: Name Tents from Sarah Van Der Werf: https://www.saravanderwerf.com/week-1-day-1-name-tents-with-feedback/

Show Notes Transcript

As the world prepares for one of the most interesting beginnings to the school year, Pam and Kim are here to help us get it right. They start off this 3 part series by dialing in on the importance of using students names. Find the transcripts HERE.
Talking Points:

  • A maternal mathy person
  • How Pam learns student names
  • Useful tools and tips for using student names in a remote setting
  • How to help students use each others names

Resources: Name Tents from Sarah Van Der Werf: https://www.saravanderwerf.com/week-1-day-1-name-tents-with-feedback/

Pam Harris :

Hey fellow mathematicians. Welcome to the podcast where math is Figure-Out-Able. I'm Pam.

Kim Montague :

And I'm Kim.

Pam Harris :

And we answer the question. If not algorithms, then what?

Kim Montague :

Hey, Pam. I know we're supposed to share about other people's submissions of things that their mathy friends do, but I was really hoping that maybe you could tell the listeners really quickly about a mathy person in your life.

Pam Harris :

Yeah, let's start it off with talking about somebody who is a math mentor to me, quick story. We live in Texas. I grew up in Idaho. My parents still live in Idaho. And one time my mom and dad came to visit me and my mom was bugging me to play. She's like, let's go do some fun things. And at that point in time, I had just written Lessons and Activities for Building Powerful Numeracy that was my second numeracy book. And we were still in the process of getting it published and everything and I had just gotten back from my editor, the book itself, and we were writing the answer key, and so you might not know those of you that own Lessons and Activities for Building Powerful Numeracy that we actually have an answer key with suggested answers on the Heinemann websites, you can go to the website, check that out if you want to. Well, I had to write that. And so I said to my mom, I'm like, I have to get this done first, like I have a deadline for this writing. So you know, hang on a second. And she said, Well, can I help? And y'all I looked at her. I said, I don't know, can you? At that point in my life, it sounds funny, I was a high school math teacher. I've done all this numeracy work. My mom and I actually, at that point, had never done a lot of talking about math. When I was a small kid. When I was in school, I was learning math. I always did really well in math. And so we just didn't ever talk about it. I got the grades. I have eight siblings. So there's plenty of other things for my mom to do. And so we just sort of never talked about math. And so I looked at her I said, I don't know, can you help me write the answer key for these numeracy, mental math problems? And she kind of looked at me like, Well where did you think you got it from? It's kind of funny conversation. So we sat down and sure enough, my mom had all these brilliant math relationships. And so now we've talked a lot, she's one of the people that answers the question on MathStratChat often on Facebook. And so now we both know how much fun it is to chat about our strategies, and it's a lot of fun. So there's my mathy person person for the day. My mom, Ursula Weber.

Kim Montague :

Oh, that's so great. Hey, so let's move on. Today's episode is the first of a three part series, right? The top three school starters, school is right around the corner, starting soon or will be for quite a few people. And so we thought we'd focus on some top tips for starting the school year.

Pam Harris :

Right. So next week, we'll talk about building a community of learners. And part three is about having a system of beliefs that's coherent that you base all your decisions on. But this week in part one, we're going to talk about the most important way to start the school year and it's all about your students.

Kim Montague :

Right, we've compiled The top three tips for helping your students feel seen, acknowledged and that they matter in your classroom.

Pam Harris :

And this is so important. We're going to spend an entire episode talking about ways to make sure that that can happen. So the three tips are, learn student names, use student names, and help other students use student names.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, all about student names. So the first tip today is learn student names. Do you want to tell us how you learn your students names?

Pam Harris :

And ya'll that might not seem really important to you. But it is so important in building the culture in your classroom that students feel seen and acknowledged and valued. And so we're going to spend a lot of time today talking about student names. So let me tell you about an experience when I was at BYU. I was probably halfway through my degree at BYU - undergrad. I was in a class one day it was the first day of class and during that class, very unusual thing. The professor - it was a smallish class, 40 students or so, BYUs a big school. The professor videod each one of us had a stand up say our name and something interesting about ourselves was really quick went by pretty fast. I did it whatever it was kind of weird. Second day of class comes I walk up to the door of class and he says, Hello Pam, welcome to class. I looked at him. I'm like, Hey, you know my name. He's like, Well, yeah, I videod do last time I went home and memorized your names. Y'all. It was really interesting experience to watch him greet every one of us as we walked into class by name, I will never forget that day. And so when I became a high school math teacher, I took it on. When my students came into class. I had a note on the board that said, Please sit alphabetically and I would be walking around. Yeah, hi, please sit alphabetically and high school kids that first day of class were not excited about that. They would kind of grumble and moan a little bit, What's your name? and, and they would sort of finally get themselves kind of seated alphabetically. It took a couple minutes and I was circulating I was listening to kids, I was kind of getting to know kids a little bit. And so then now they're all sitting down I'd walk up to the first kid and I would say, okay, so Aaron? Andrew? Arnold? And the first kid would look at me and go like, My last name is Andrews. Oh, you guys sat according to last name alphabetically. They all look at me like duh. I'm like, I'm so sorry. I meant first name, first name alphabetically. Okay, it's all on purpose, right? So then they'd all kind of more grumbling, they're looking at me like, Are you crazy? I'm like, No, like, please. And so they get up and they'd kind of what's your name, or My name is and they would finally all then sit alphabetically by first name. This was very helpful to me in a couple of ways. Now for the rest of the couple weeks, that was my seating chart. I had kids sitting alphabetically, so if I couldn't come up with a name, I knew where they were sitting in the class. I'm like, Ah, it's got to be like an S or an R or a T name. That would kind of help jog my memory for their names. But then probably even more importantly, then I went home that night and I had video. Oh, did I mention I was videoing this whole time? So I had a video camera on as they were seating themselves alphabetically by last name, and then by first name. Now what I would do is I would take my roster, and I would watch that video over and over and over again, and I memorized their names. So a little differently than my professor did at BYU but that second day as they would walk in, I could look them in the eye and I could say, hey, Austin, how's it going? Hello, Shanaya what's up? Hey, Ashika, and I tell you what, they would look at me like I was crazy. So I do a little bit differently now in my university classes. I get a picture roster ahead of time now. And so I kind of made flashcards out of the picture roster and I'd walk around for a couple weeks before school starts and I'm memorizing names and when they walk in the room, I'm calling my university students by name. They always look so surprised as they you know they're again that first day of class they're walking in, and I'm calling them by name. The hardest ones honestly are - I get them when they're juniors and seniors. And if they've changed a lot since their freshman picture, it can be a little bit difficult, but I can usually narrow down you know, to one or two names. And so even if I'm not exactly sure who it is, I can usually guess two or maybe even three names, and I've got them. And it's always fascinating to me, the look on their faces, you know, they're surprised that I'm doing it, but they are so intrigued, like, how do you know and one or two of them say, she memorized our names and I have the picture roster in my hand as they're walking in. So it's a little bit of cheating there. But it is fascinating to me to see that they really do notice that I took the time. It is noteworthy to them, that I took the time to really get to know them and then to use to use their names from then on out in the class. So then another thing that I do right now is that we use Canvas as our management tool at Texas State University. And in their first assignment, I will ask my students again, to do a quick video of themselves and something interesting about themselves so that as they walk in, I can talk about that something interesting.

Kim Montague :

Yes, so really cool. So if you don't have canvas or some other big system, flipgrid is one that I really love to get kids to film some sort of introduction the first week. If you're less techie, or you don't have any pictures from previous years, then a simple name tent that first week is always really useful as well. What's great about a name tent is that you can use the inside to ask for students to respond to what happened that day. You can gauge their reactions, honor their feelings and encourage them if you're getting your community set up the way that you want to.

Pam Harris :

Yeah, we'll give credit to Sarah Van Der Werf this is a great idea to simply fold a piece of paper into a tent and they write their name, first name, big and bold on it. You can also have them put little bits of information on the inside, there's various different ways that you can have them respond to the day and then you can respond back to them. And that can go throughout that first week of, of sort of a communication back and forth between students. So we really liked Sarah's idea. And we'll put that link in the show notes.

Kim Montague :

If you're starting the year remotely like I know so many people will be, please make sure that your students know how to change the screen name to represent what they want to be called, so that it's not their parents names or somebody else's name in the family. You've had some experience with that with zooms lately, haven't you?

Pam Harris :

Oh my gosh, we've been doing so much Zoom since the pandemic started. And just the other day, I had a teacher with like a five number sequence, so I just Okay, so 78342, what's your strategy? And she told us her name, but if students don't know how to change their names in Zoom, then that would be a good thing to teach them. Or another alternative to that is you might make it so that students cannot change their names. So that you sort of can maybe stop some of the shenanigans that might happen, you can actually go in as class starts and quickly put in their name there. Especially if, like Kim said, their parents name is up there or something, then you can go in as the host and you can change the names to what they want to be called. Okay, so our first tip to help students really feel seen and acknowledged is to learn their names. Our second tip to help students feel really acknowledged and seen and valued is to actually use their names. Now, that may sound silly, why would you learn their names if you're not going to actually use them? But we really want to emphasize how important it is to use students names and often.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, not only will it help you learn their names, to use them when talking to them, but students feel the effort. Everyone likes to be called by name. It's a very personal connecting thing. Pam, I've heard you in workshops, attempting names that I would definitely struggle with.

Pam Harris :

In fact, we've even talked about that a little bit because I make an intentional decision to be the one who's embarrassed a little bit as I attempt to say people's names. Y'all I will say people's names over a few times until I get it right so that I'm the one that's embarrassed. And it's not the student or the participant in a workshop who has to have their name slaughtered every time that I say so I intentionally say it over enough times that I get it right and then I keep using it and try and get it right. So that it's me that has to sort of have the role of being embarrassed and I don't put the student or the participant in the role of having their names slaughtered. So I feel like that's kind of an important thing. So along with that, we would suggest that you welcome students as they walk in the door just like my professor did at BYU that first week especially as they're walking in the door, welcome them by name.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, that might not be a new idea for elementary teachers. But I have heard teachers kind of grumble about that 20 minutes kind of wasted time just standing in the hallway waiting for kids. But it is so important for setting the tone for the day and really for the whole year.

Pam Harris :

Yeah, absolutely. And it's not just the first day we think it should happen for a while. My husband and kids knew that that first couple weeks of school I was going to come home exhausted for a couple of reasons. One, I would come home and I would be memorizing names I would you know, watch that video over and over until I had all those kids names downs but also I would make sure that I was so prepared so that I could take that time before class and after class to address kids and not just Hello Taylor, but Hey, hello Taylor, how's your dog, cat, child like whatever pertains to Taylor that day, you know, be personal take an interest when they tell you that interesting thing about themselves, then use that as you greet them as they're coming into class.

Kim Montague :

I think being intentional is really important, using their names as you call them. Sometimes teachers get away with not calling students by name by saying things like hi friend or Hey love, Hi sunshine. But I think we all can agree that students and participants will feel more valued when you use their name instead of some vague term of endearment. Yeah, so Okay, Pam, we've talked about learning kids names and teachers using student names.

Pam Harris :

So let's talk about our third tip. That's to get other students to use each other's names.

Kim Montague :

Yeah, I've seen you use a really great technique that I think is so important to get kids to acknowledge each other. I've seen you actually direct them to speak towards another student and use their names. Will you talk about that for a second.

Pam Harris :

Yeah. So for example, if Andrea is to share her thinking, and Paul has an unclear look on his face. Or he even might ask a question, like, I don't know what she's talking about. Then I might say, hey, Paul, do you want to ask Andrea to repeat that or explain that, like, I actually like to use my hands to kind of get him to turn, motion to turn to each other. I want to give credit to a colleague. I want to give credit to a colleague Kara Imm for doing things like that. Another great move that she uses when students have differing ideas to get them to sort of face each other. Hey Breanna and Hollis you guys were alking about different things. Can you convince each other like Brianna, what can you say to Hollis that can really be convincing. It's about getting students to talk to each other, not just teacher-students student-teacher all the time, but actually, students communicating with each other. So you might leave the name tense up longer than you even need to learn the names so that students can use each other's names. Yeah, just briefly, we've been doing a lot of filming in classrooms where we've been doing problem strings with real students, which has been fascinating by the way and pay attention to the website because we've got Problem Strings that we're putting up more and more. And I noticed that as I was working with these particular high school students, they didn't know each other you know, this was in May of the school year, I'd be like - and I was learning their names right? So I'd say hey, can you convince and I'd be looking for the name tent to try to call that student by name. And they look at me like I don't know this person I've never talked to him. I'm like you're sitting by them in class! Like, a thing we need to do is to get students to communicate with each other. So encouraging students to use each other's names is another way of making sure that students feel valued and is a, an integral part of what's happening in class.

Kim Montague :

That reminds me of a time when one of my sons was in elementary school. And so you remember this. And it was time for Valentine's right? And I don't remember what grade exactly third or fourth grade and we were writing up the Valentine's cards and he wanted to write: to you. And I was like, why are you just being a little bit lazy? And he's like, I don't know their names. Wow, we need to do some work with getting to know some people.

Pam Harris :

All right, so, Kim, why are we making such a big deal about knowing student knowing and using student names?

Kim Montague :

Right. So your students are valuable members of your community, right, that you're gonna want to build the whole year. Teaching is all about relationships. And it reminds me of Maya Angelou quote, I've learned that people will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. It's so valuable to learn and know kids names. Absolutely.

Pam Harris :

So to help students feel valued, acknowledged, really seen y'all learn their names, use their names, and encourage other students to use each other's names.

Kim Montague :

If you want to hear more from Pam, check out the blog on our website mathisFigureOutAble.com. And please join us on Wednesdays on your favorite social media from MathStratChat. If you like the podcast and would give us a review, that would be fantastic.

Pam Harris :

So if you're interested to learn more math, and you want to help students develop as mathematicians then the Math is Figure-Out-Able Podcast is for you because math is Figure-Out-Able!