Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris

Ep 204: Building a Community

May 14, 2024 Pam Harris Episode 204
Ep 204: Building a Community
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
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Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 204: Building a Community
May 14, 2024 Episode 204
Pam Harris

Is your classroom a place where students' thinking is valued? In this episode Pam and Kim discuss building a healthy classroom culture.
Talking Points:

  • Know your content, but also know your kids
  • Me versus us statements 
  • Walking the line of planning for the community and being part of the community
  • A great place to start is recognizing 'hidden' students
  • Names are important, learn them, use them

Help us reach 1 million downloads! Share the podcast with a friend!

Check out our social media
Twitter: @PWHarris
Instagram: Pam Harris_math
Facebook: Pam Harris, author, mathematics education
Linkedin: Pam Harris Consulting LLC 

Show Notes Transcript

Is your classroom a place where students' thinking is valued? In this episode Pam and Kim discuss building a healthy classroom culture.
Talking Points:

  • Know your content, but also know your kids
  • Me versus us statements 
  • Walking the line of planning for the community and being part of the community
  • A great place to start is recognizing 'hidden' students
  • Names are important, learn them, use them

Help us reach 1 million downloads! Share the podcast with a friend!

Check out our social media
Twitter: @PWHarris
Instagram: Pam Harris_math
Facebook: Pam Harris, author, mathematics education
Linkedin: Pam Harris Consulting LLC 

Pam  00:00

Hey, fellow mathers! Welcome to the podcast where Math is Figure-Out-Able! I'm Pam, a former mimicker turned mather.

 

Kim  00:08

And I'm Kim, a reasoner, who now knows how to share her thinking with others. At Math is Figure-Out-Able, we are on a mission to improve math teaching.

 

Pam  00:17

We know that algorithms are amazing historic achievements, but they are not good teaching tools because mimicking step-by-step procedures can actually trap students into using less sophisticated reasoning than the problems are intended to develop.

 

Kim  00:30

In this podcast, we help you teach mathing, building relationships with your students, and grappling with mathematical relationships.

 

Pam  00:37

We invite you to join us to make math more figure-out-able. Oh, for heavens. (unclear).

 

Kim  00:42

And laugh along with us as we try to figure things out. 

 

Pam  00:44

Whoo! We're going to get that opening down one of these days. We are. We are. Alright, Kim, what are we doing today?

 

Kim  00:49

Okay, so this episode is pretty dear to me because of the strong feeling that I have about how important it is to know your students in order to teach them well, and to reach them where they are. So, this episode, we're going to chat about building a community. But building a community isn't always a top priority in all classrooms, right? So, let's chat today about how and why you should build community in your classroom.

 

Pam  01:16

Yeah. You know, one of the things that you like to say is it's all about build your content. Sorry. Know, your content, know, your kids. And I actually did a webinar not too long ago with David Woodward and Forefront, and one of the things that we talked about. It was really kind of fun planning with him. He's fantastic. 

 

Kim  01:34

Yeah.

 

Pam  01:35

He and I could go on and on. Kind of like you and me.

 

Kim  01:38

Yeah. 

 

Pam  01:39

So, I don't know if anybody could replace you, Kim. But anyway.

 

Kim  01:42

Do you laugh as much?

 

Pam  01:44

No, no. But we do laugh. We do laugh. It was really fun because as we were planning the webinar, he said that he'd really been messing around with this idea. It was for leaders. And he said, "I've really been messing around with this idea that I think working with teachers that it's really important that teachers know the content. They really need to understand the mathematical content." And we talked about that for a minute, and he goes, "But I also think it's really important that they listen to their students." And I started chuckling, and I was like, "You know, my co-host on the podcast, Kim, will say it's really important know your content, know your kids." And we both kind of like laughed. It was like, yeah. Because, you know, we'd spent three or four minutes where he was kind of saying, "This is really what I've been thinking about lately." And I was like, "Yeah, we've been thinking about that too.

 

Kim  02:27

Yeah, that was great.

 

Pam  02:28

So, that was really fun. Kim, we were at NCSM together, and we were in a session. A session which shall not be named. 

 

Kim  02:36

Yes. 

 

Pam  02:36

And there was... You know, it wasn't a bad session, right? It's pretty good. I think we were learning some stuff. But there's one thing that happened that we both kind of looked at each other. And I don't think you raised your eyebrow, but I kind of recognized that you wanted to.

 

Kim  02:51

Sure, sure.

 

Pam  02:52

Sort of this look. And again, it's not like horrible, but it was just... It was a move. The presenter had sent us off to talk to each other, and so we were talking in small groups, or partners, or whatever. And then I heard, "Come back to me. Come back to me. Come back to me."

 

Kim  03:07

Louder, louder.

 

Pam  03:08

Louder, louder, louder. And we kind of looked at each other, and I don't know, maybe smirked a little bit.

 

Kim  03:17

Yeah.

 

Pam  03:17

(unclear).

 

Kim  03:17

It was abrupt. It was abrupt.

 

Pam  03:19

It was abrupt. It was kind of loud. It was kind of like stop on a dime. It was like, "Hey, I really want you to talk in math class. Shut up." Now, he didn't say shut up. 

 

Kim  03:27

No, no, no.

 

Pam  03:28

It sort of sent that message, a little bit of like, you know like, "Okay, everybody talk in math class. Stop." And I think I looked at you and I said, "What do you wish he would have said?" Or something like that. And I think you said, "Come back together." 

 

Kim  03:41

Maybe.

 

Pam  03:42

Like, make it... And I thought that was such an interesting moment, where there was this one message, "Come back to me," and there's this other message, "Come back together." 

 

Kim  03:52

Yeah. 

 

Pam  03:54

And I think those those are different. There's a different feeling tone there a little bit. 

 

Kim  03:58

Yeah. Hey, that reminds me. You know, we.., I think listeners probably know that we film Problem Strings in classrooms, and then share those with members of Journey, your implementation support group. And so we have been aware, both of us, of watching the film later. Which is super exciting. But watching it later, and then realizing that on occasion, a thing that we want to get better at is we have said, "Tell me what you're thinking?" And what we both identify as soon as we hear it is that we prefer that it to be, "Tell us what you're thinking. Tell the class. Tell us more," instead of "Tell me more." And so we're...

 

Pam  04:44

Oh, my gosh, Kim, you are totally reminding me. Do you remember when we were... Gal, where were we? We were somewhere and Kara M., master Problem String facilitator was facilitating a Problem String. And I think you were in the room. I know I was there. Anyway, and this gentleman said something. And it wasn't all that long or whatever. It was just kind of a short, brief, whatever. And I remember Kira. Or, sorry. Kara leaned in, and she said, "Ooh, that seems really interesting, convince us." And in that moment, I was like, "Oh! That is such a good move!" Because it was like this germ of an idea, and then she leaned in with that interested look. Like, "I'm super curious about what you're thinking about." And then what she didn't say was "Convince me."

 

Kim  05:32

Right.

 

Pam  05:32

She said, "Convince us." And I tell you, everyone in the room like sat up a little taller, and leaned in, and was like, "Yeah! Like, that seems interesting. How would we convince? Like, I believe what he's talking about? How would we convince us, as a community?" I think that's such an interesting. It was a fantastic moment for me. Kara, you're a fantastic, amazing, Problem String facilitator, among other things. 

 

Kim  05:58

Yeah.

 

Pam  06:00

This is reminding me, Kim, of something early on when you and I were working together. We were diving into the work of Cathy Fosnot and her Young Mathematicians at Work. And she writes about how the teacher's job, the teachers role is... I don't know what the right word. I don't want to say "precarious". That's not the right word. Is...

 

Kim  06:20

Artfully. 

 

Pam  06:21

Maybe. Purposefully. To walk between being part of the community and planning for the community. Let me say that again. Like, there's sort of two roles. That we want the teacher to be really clear that part of what they are to do is to plan for the community. They are the teacher. They are the adult in the room. They are the "more knowledgeable other" to quote Vygotsky. But we also want to be part of the community. But there's this line. And I love the way that she. And I'm kind of paraphrasing, so, Cathy, hope you don't mind how I'm paraphrasing. But there's this line that you walk because you're not ever only planning for the community or only being part of the community, but you sort of tread in both worlds.

 

Kim  07:09

Yeah.

 

Pam  07:09

And that it's a careful, balanced walk. Does that make sense? 

 

Kim  07:13

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And if I can add on to that. You might be planning for where the mathematics is going. 

 

Pam  07:24

Mmm, mmhm. 

 

Kim  07:25

But you're a part of the community because you're also interested, and you're also learning about where the student that's talking is right there, and learning about what they're doing. And you can't know that for sure until you're listening, and so you're setting the tone for the rest of the class that we're listening here, and I'm interested, and I'm curious. Yeah, it's a delicate walk for sure.

 

Pam  07:49

And that you are interesting, and worth listening to, and that we can co-create things together.

 

Kim  07:56

Yeah. 

 

Pam  07:57

And that I, that we, all benefit. We benefit from the conversation that we all get better as we all gain clarity together. Yeah, I think that's interesting. If I may, I've spent some time over the years, and then again recently, in some classrooms, and I tend to hear a specific thing in high school classrooms that I don't hear as often in other classrooms. And, Kim, I'm just going to quote a few things that I heard lately, and I'm going to see if you can pick out what I'm talking about. So, few things that I heard over and over again recently and in the past. "Hey, so my coordinate over here is positive. And my coordinate over here is negative. So, I'm going..." There's one example. Or, "Hey, when I take my equation, I'm getting my x on the other side, and so see how I've got my variable here. But see how my variable here is connected to this constant? And so, if I need to get my variable on the other..." That's another example. And then maybe one more. "So, when my numbers negative, then I'm going to add the opposite. But when my number is positive, then we can..." Anyway, I don't know. Did you notice any pattern? (unclear).

 

Kim  09:08

Yeah. I'm instantly disengaged because it's all about you. It's your stuff, and I'm watching you or listening to you do your stuff. Yeah. 

 

Pam  09:17

It's an interesting... You know, I've been in classrooms where excellent teaching has happening.

 

Kim  09:24

Yeah.

 

Pam  09:24

Like where it's actually. And maybe none of the ones I just mentioned were excellent teaching. You might be like, "That was excellent teaching?" But where I'm really in a room where teachers are doing a decent job of getting kids engaged and active, but every time... Not every time. That's too extreme. But often the teacher when they're discussing what they're doing or they're discussing, you know, the math it's "my this", and "my that", and "my equation", and "my variable".

 

Kim  09:50

(unclear). That's pretty common in high school?

 

Pam  09:52

You know, I don't... Every classroom I've been in, in the last 10 years I think I've... I can't say "every". Many.

 

Kim  10:00

Yeah, lots.

 

Pam  10:01

Many. And again, I hear more often in high school. I hear it... You know, it's almost a continuum. I don't hear it very often in the younger grades, and I hear it sort of more as the grades get older. But I see it often in high school classrooms. 

 

Kim  10:14

Yeah.

 

Pam  10:15

For some reason even, you know, teachers that we're learning together, and I'm really enjoying what's happening, there's this... So, here's what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that it is a death knell, that it is, "Oh, my gosh. You're the worst teacher ever if you're doing that. Maybe I did that. I don't remember what I did that when I was first teaching. But I definitely look out for it now. I definitely look out now for it's not all about me. It's not about "my equation", "my variable", "my coordinate axis", and "my 23", or you know like, whatever. It's "my ratio table".  "Well, my array up here, and my array over there." It's just a little off putting. It's just a little less... In fact, Kim, I'm reminded. I just read a substack by Dan Meyer. I don't remember what it was called. A better person would remember what that was called. Where he talked about why did you go into math teaching, and he kind of talked about two reasons why you might have gone into math teaching. One, maybe you really liked the math. And one, maybe you really liked kids. And then it kind of didn't matter where you came from, but that sort of good to maybe acknowledge that, and that we kind of want to acknowledge that there might be some things that come along with both of those. And as he was talking about that, I wonder if... I guess one of the cautions he gave to teachers who went into it because they liked the math was that we can sort of be all consumed about the math and not create this community. That it's all about "me" and "my math". And it's not like, "Oh, here, wwe're all sort of learning together, co-creating things together."

 

Kim  11:53

Yeah, it feels like that could be very... You know, you talk about Fosnot saying, "You walk the line."

 

Pam  11:59

Mmm, mmhm. 

 

Kim  12:00

That feels like you could sway a little too heavily about planning for the community. And saying, "I'm going to..." Whether you demonstrate, or you provide experiences where they do good math, or whatever, but if it's you're too far planning and not being a part of the community. You know, and (unclear).

 

Pam  12:15

(unclear).

 

Kim  12:16

I hear you say, "my, my, my, my, my," "me, me, me," like, I wonder. We have a lot of really disengaged high school students. A lot. A lot. And I wonder, even just that small tweak of like, "help us". You know, Kara's brilliant like, "Help us. Convince us." It's our work. It's our. You know, I wonder if high school teachers knew that that had an impact. Just that small tweak could could maybe make a big difference.

 

Pam  12:45

Yeah, nice. While you mentioned swaying a little too far to the planning for the community, Dan Meyer also mentioned that if you're on kind of that other, like maybe you went into math teaching because you really liked kids, you might sway a little too far towards being part of the community. And he suggested we might want to look out for, "Oh, that looked a little hard for you. Maybe I'll try to make it easier with this trick." Or, Ooh, you're struggling over there. Maybe we just won't do that part." You know like, "Oh, everybody's happier now. So, it really is this balance of walking the line between planning for the community and being a part of the community. 

 

Kim  13:19

Yeah.

 

Pam  13:20

(unclear). you brought that back in. Nice.

 

Kim  13:21

Yeah, I mean, finding that sweet spot is, you know, as you often say, it's not trivial. Right? It's finding the balance. 

 

Pam  13:31

Yeah.

 

Kim  13:31

Can meet the needs of students in a way that being too far one or the other way is not. So, why is community important? Having a solid mathematical community in your classroom? Well, it invites empathy, and it helps with problem solving, helps with working together. If students are learning from each other? Then you're going to get more from your students in a strong community.

 

Pam  13:55

Nice, nice. 

 

Kim  13:57

Yeah. 

 

Pam  13:57

(unclear) engagement is just going up naturally.

 

Kim  14:00

Yeah. Hey, have you ever been in a classroom... So, I know that I have for sure. And maybe it's, you know, living more in the elementary world. But I have been in classrooms where you just walk in, and you feel it. You're like, "This is a community. There's evidence in the room. The way the teacher's speaking to the students. The way the students are speaking to the teacher." Have you ever been in an older grade classroom that feels? 

 

Pam  14:25

Yeah, you know, we've been filming in classrooms lately. And I was in a high school classroom not too long ago, where I was a little nervous. You know, I'm on film. The camera's are showing up. The whole thing. I had only met this teacher briefly, so I didn't really know him very well. And right early. I'm not even expecting kids to be in the room yet. You know, we're super early, setting things up. And a kid kind of came in. He was super agitated, kind of upset. My guard went up a little bit because I've seen adults handle kids when they're kind of agitated or whatever. 

 

Kim  14:57

Yeah, yeah.

 

Pam  14:57

And I I want to walk that line of being part of the community and kind of like, like, I don't know, like be there for the kid. You know, like, honestly sort of walk hand in hand with them kind of, you know like. Anyway. So, my guard went up a little bit, and then...  Worried it wasn't going to go well. And I just watched this teacher just like, yeah. You know like, just invite the kid in, and listen to him, look him in the eye, was super patient, kind of laughed a little bit at the appropriate times. The kid kind of took a breath. You know you could just feel the kid kind of relax a little bit. And I thought, "Oh, this is going tobe a great day." Like, just this little interaction that I watched with this teacher of this one kid, and I was like, "Oh, I am going to have a fantastic day because the kids are going to walk in this room knowing that their teacher is on their side, that their teacher believes they're humans, and that they're all in this for the the benefit of the of the students. And sure enough, sure enough, it was a fantastic day. Kids came in ready to learn. Yeah, that was a moment I remember. 

 

Kim  16:03

That's awesome. 

 

Pam  16:04

Do you have a moment when you're?

 

Kim  16:06

I can tell you about a different moment. 

 

Pam  16:09

Oh, no. 

 

Kim  16:11

Yeah, you know, I have kids who are getting older, and...

 

Pam  16:16

Most kids are. Sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt you there.

 

Kim  16:26

That was perfect. Oh, my gosh. Okay, well, true that. My kids are typical aging children. And, you know, they've been in some unique experiences where I've gotten to see other adults interact with them. You know, through different things that they're in. But I did have a moment where I got to see one of my students, one of my kids, in a school environment. And the teacher, you know, didn't really ask a lot of questions. And it was evident that they really weren't all that interested in hearing what the kids thought. It was very sage on the stage type situation. But one time I overheard... Actually I say more. It was more than one time. But often, I heard, "When I start talking, you stop talking."

 

Pam  17:10

What?

 

Kim  17:11

And I was like, "Wait, what?" "When I start talking, you stop talking. What I'm saying is important." And in that moment, I went, "Uh. Okay. What they're saying is important too." I mean, I get it. Like, sometimes you're, you know, (unclear).

 

Pam  17:24

"When I start talking, you stop talking.

 

Kim  17:26

"You stop talking." Mmhm.

 

Pam  17:27

Okay, okay. 

 

Kim  17:28

And it was when kids were talking about something mathy. And I was like, "Wow, what message is that sending that like you're more important and what you have to say is more important." And, listen, I get it. Like, we have a lot to do as teachers. 

 

Pam  17:42

Sure. 

 

Kim  17:46

That's not doing a lot of good for wanting to kids to be in your class, and wanting to learn from you, and wanting... Like, we can get so much from our students when we've built community with them. They trust you. You trust them. You can hold them accountable. They know they're going to be held accountable. Yeah, it was just one of those moments where I was like, "Okay, I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things."

 

Pam  18:10

When you say the words, "What I am saying is important," Surely that has to imply that what you're saying is less important. 

 

Kim  18:18

Yeah. 

 

Pam  18:19

Which, you know, we might have teachers out there going, "Yeah, it is. What the kids are saying is less important." It goes back to what does it mean to learn? And if we are having kids learn to gain clarity as they find words to put to their ideas, then what they're saying is important. You know, it's funny, Kim, when you and I present, often we'll say, "Finish the sentence you're on," and then talk about how we're not trying to cut people off because we feel like it's important for them to actually talk. Yeah, that's interesting. 

 

Kim  18:48

Yeah. I... You know, it's interesting for me to hear you tell stories about high school because I feel like elementary teachers might spend more time on building community than upper grades. Now, you obviously had this one experience where there was some good work, so I don't want to totally blanket, over generalize. I am sure there's some fantastic high school teachers who, and middle school teachers who, are also building fantastic community. But I also wonder if that's a bit of kind of where kids start to disengage. And I don't mean that it's just that elementary teachers say friends. Like, "Hey, friends, we're proud of a community." But I do think that they work really hard to say, "This is our classroom. We all have roles. We all have responsibilities here. We all own this." I don't know.

 

Pam  19:35

And you're kind of wondering if that's not as true for middle middle school and high school?

 

Kim  19:39

(unclear). I don't know. 

 

Pam  19:40

You know, I'll say this in defense of maybe some decisions that middle and high school teachers make, and then maybe we can examine it. But like, if we go back to Fosnot's idea that there's sort of these two roles. You know, were trying to walk the line. I wonder sometimes if teachers have older students, think about that it's kind of two sides, and that I'm supposed to... That they might hear it as, "Yeah, you want me to be like all touchy, feely, and make it kids guess." You know, in fact, I was talking to a teacher not too long ago. She goes, "Oh yeah, I went through that movement, that discovery moment where I was supposed to have kids guess all this stuff. Yeah, that worked really great. I would, you know, I'd say to them, 'Okay, go figure out the Pythagorean Theorem. Go ahead.' And they, you know, it didn't work." And I was like, "That's what you... That's the message you..." So I, get it. I think there is part of if you've never been in a really good inquiry kind of situation where you actually learned with a guide who facilitated your learning by giving you just the right question, at just the right time, and the edge of your zone of proximal development, so that you could be like, "Oh, my gosh, it's this," and "Whoa!" and it connected. If you've never had that experience, then I get how you might hear everything we've just said about being part of the community as like, "Ugh, so I'm supposed to just like make them guess and fumble around in the dark, and reinvent. That's kind of like actually mean. I should clearly. I should be on that side, the planning side where I should clearly delineate all the things. I should give them to them." And what we're suggesting is no, it really is. It really is walking the line. It isn't that you are one side or the other too far. It's not. Please hear us say it is never intended, that we would never intend that you're going to leave kids fumbling around on their own. You know, trying to reinvent stuff that that we could clearly just, that it would work for us to clearly hand to them. We're really on the side of building kids agency and building kids reasoning power. And that is walking the line. That is knowing content, so that you understand where we're going in the mathematics. But it's diving in and knowing the kids. It's being willing to be a human being with those kids because human beings learn better together.

 

Kim  22:03

Yeah, and the more you know, your kids, the more you're going to get from them, right? And that's what we want, right? We want kids to know more content, and develop in lots of fantastic ways in the year that you have them. And so, if there's something that you can do to help. And listen, I feel like this is me dogging on middle and high school teachers. It's not that. I know plenty of elementary teachers that could use some ideas as well about building community. So, what do you think? If somebody doesn't have, or is identifying like, "I don't think I have a solid community in my classroom." (unclear).

 

Pam  22:37

Or

 

22:38

"I'd like to build a better one." 

 

Both Pam and Kim  22:39

Yeah.

 

Pam  22:39

Like, "I'd like to build a better community." Yeah. So, here's a couple places to start. I got really lucky. My second year of teaching, I was involved in a thing. I don't know what we called it. A small group of us at the high school went to a training. And one of the things they did, I think, was super helpful. So, I'll just throw this out as an idea to start wrapping your head around building a community in your classroom. In this professional development, (unclear), they said, "Take out a piece of paper, and just write down your third period class. Just write down all their names." And I was like, "Third period, whatever?" And they're like, "Or pick one." You know like, "Pick..." Now, obviously, they're talking to teachers that have a third period. So if you're a self contained classroom just write down all your students. Just like literally write them all down. Now, maybe if you're self contained, so you only have, I don't know, 26 kids to write down, maybe write down their names and what you know about where they are right now, in the thing you're teaching, you know like, what do you know about what you're teaching? But if you're a middle school or high school teacher, you know, third period. Just write all their names down. So, we just wrote them all down. And then they're like, "Did you get them all?" And I was like, "I don't think I have them all. Like, I'm not sure how many I have in third period." I think it was early enough in the year that I didn't quite know how many I had in each class. Usually, I get there by the end of the year. But anyway. I was pretty clear that I was missing a few. And it was super interesting. Gave us a few minutes to write those down, and then they said, "Those kids that aren't there, get to know those kids." And we sure enough, we compared all of us in that small committee. And we were, you know, we were decent teachers. 

 

Kim  24:12

Yeah.

 

Pam  24:13

(unclear) like is an anomaly. All of us had some hidden kids in our classroom that just hid well, they were kids who didn't cause a ruckus. They didn't, you know, make their presence real known. But they also weren't doing a lot of learning. Like, they were just kind of hidden. And that was a place for me to start. A place for me to start with to acknowledge I have some kids that kind of hide well.  They've gotten good at it. And I'm going to acknowledge them. I'm going to notice them. I'm going to say hello. I'm just going to make it a point to make sure those kids know that I see them. That was a place that I started. Really helped my teaching, helped me kind of focus on the kids as human beings. So, I think I think that could be a place to start

 

Kim  24:55

That's so powerful. That's super powerful because I know that you have so many kids in high school. Like, there's so many, right? And you can't... You're not going to know all the details of them like you would as an elementary school teacher. I mean, elementary kids are going to say all the things about their family, and their dog, and their whatever. But knowing their name, and knowing you're in my third period class could be a goal. By the end of the year know who they all are.

 

Pam  25:19

How about by the end of the six weeks? I mean maybe don't just know their names, but say their names.

 

Kim  25:25

Mmhm. 

 

Pam  25:25

And that could be a way for you to learn all the kids names. I think names are super, super important. I'll just say briefly. Maybe we'll talk about this more one day. But every time I would start class, at the beginning of the year, very first class, I would try to... Well, I would video the kids as they walked in, and then I would say, "Sit alphabetically." And then, I would just sit in the back of the room with a video camera and watch them try to figure out how to sit alphabetically. And then as soon as they would... I'm telling you now, so I'll just tell you. As soon as they would sit down, then I would walk up to the first kid and I would go, "Aaron, Andrew..." I can't even think of another A name right now, but "Alex..." And they would look at me, and they would go, "No, like, my last name is Anderson." And I was like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I meant sit alphabetically by first name."

 

Kim  26:08

Yeah. 

 

Pam  26:08

And they would look at me like, "Seriously?" And I was like, "Yeah." And so, then they would get up, and they would... Well, ya'll, what was brilliant was I now have these kids on camera, sitting alphabetically by their last names, and then I have them on camera sitting alphabetically by their first names, and then I would go home, and I would memorize that video. And when they...

 

Kim  26:24

You do that to this day. 

 

Pam  26:24

Yeah.

 

Kim  26:25

You do that with your college classes.

 

Pam  26:26

Well, with my college classes, it's a little different because they come with pictures, and so I memorize their pictures ahead of time.

 

Kim  26:31

Yeah.

 

Pam  26:31

As best I can. And when they walk in the door that first day class, I go, "Hey, Mark. I'm super glad you're here today." And they look at me like, "Are you a stalker? Like, what?" And every once in a while, you know, they go by their middle name, and so darn it, I've got Katherine and it's really Louise and whatever. But yeah. And they look at me, and I say to them, "Every move I make in this class, I'm hoping you will either ask me is that something you think we should do?" You know, because these are all teachers to be. My university classes. But I will try to be like purposeful of everything I do. And so, yeah, I memorize names. I think names are super important. And then call people by their name.

 

Kim  27:05

Yeah, yeah. I think that's super powerful. 

 

Pam  27:08

How about you, Kim. (unclear). Oh, go ahead. 

 

Kim  27:10

Well, I just tell you that in my son's math class this year, he came home from school the first week, first day, and I asked if they had done anything. And he said, "No, this week, he's learning our names. And so, he visited with us in small groups while we working on something and just went around, and around, and around until we got everybody's name right." And I was like, "Yeah, it's going to be a good year. It's going to be a good year."

 

Pam  27:31

Oh, that's nice. That's nice. 

 

Kim  27:32

So, if you want to go, you know, next level. If you really want to build a community, I think it's as simple as asking questions, and then listen. Like really listen. Ask meaningful questions about them, about what they think about what's happening in the math class. And then just listen, right?

 

Pam  27:49

And about the math, right? Like them, what's happening in a class, but also math. 

 

Kim  27:53

Yeah.

 

Pam  27:54

Yeah. 

 

Kim  27:54

And listen.

 

Pam  27:56

And actually, actually listen. That would be excellent. Yeah. And maybe don't say "my" and "mine" (unclear).

 

Kim  28:01

(unclear).

 

28:04

You know, speaking of community, we have a super fun Facebook community.

 

Pam  28:09

Oh, yeah.

 

Kim  28:10

Love it or hate it.

 

Pam  28:11

Math is Figure-Out-Able Teacher Facebook group. 

 

Both Pam and Kim  28:13

Yeah. 

 

Pam  28:14

And Natalie

 

Kim  28:16

recently said. Well, it's been a little while, but, "Everyone's been super helpful with their comments. I love the safe space to ask questions." That made me so happy. 

 

Pam  28:24

Aw, Natalie, nice.

 

Kim  28:25

Love, love, love the teacher Facebook group. You can join us there. It's, you know, because of the members in that group. They're talking solid content questions and actually giving each other really helpful suggestions. And so, there's like-minded people there. You should join us. 

 

Pam  28:40

And we kind of monitor the group and make sure that if, you know like.

 

Kim  28:44

Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Pam  28:45

Like, we're on a figure-out-able mission, so if somebody suggests something that's more rote memorizable, we gently push back. And yeah, super, super suggestions. So, if you want a place where you can get solid recommendations, join the Math is Figure-Out-Able Teacher Facebook group. And, ya'll, thank you for tuning in and teaching more and more real math. To find out more about the Math is Figure-Out-Able movement, visit mathisfigureoutable.com Let's keep spreading the word that Math is Figure-Out-Able!