Episode #101: Reframing Our Math Mindsets – An Interview With Howie Hua

Nov 2, 2020 | Podcast | 1 comment


Today we speak with Howie Hua, an instructor from Fresno State in California. Howie’s love of mathematics, students, and mental health are driving forces he uses to help pre-service teachers along their mathematics learning journeys. 

Stick around as Howie gives a master class on how to help teachers and students shift their mindset around mathematics education; five (5) qualities that make someone “good” at math; and, 20 words/phrases associated with a typical K-12 math class and how we can change them.

You’ll Learn

  • How to help teachers and students shift their mindset around mathematics education;
  • Five (5) qualities that make someone good at math; and 
  • 20 words/phrases associated with a typical K-12 math class and how we can change them.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/howie_hua

Link to Jose Vilson’s tweet https://twitter.com/thejlv/status/1257858513990225921

Email Howie:  hhua at csufresno dot edu

Start your school year off right by downloading the guide that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!


Howie Hua: I do something a little special that me and my co-teacher thought of a couple of years ago where you give them five minutes to talk about the test. So they put their pencils on the ground and they just talk about the test with their group members for five minutes, just to lower some anxiety, because I know people have math anxiety and test anxiety.

Jon Orr: So today we speak with Howie Hua, an instructor from Fresno State in California, how his love of mathematics, students and mental health are driving forces he uses to help pre-service teachers along their mathematics learning journeys.

Kyle Pearce: Stick around as Howie gives a master class on how to help teachers and students shift their mindset around mathematics education, five qualities that make someone good at math, and 20 words and phrases associated with a typical K through 12 math class, and how we can change them. All right, hey, cue up the music. Welcome to the Making Math Moments that Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce, from tapintoteenminds.com.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr from mrorrisageek.com. We are two math teachers who together-

Kyle Pearce: With you the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark curiosity-

Jon Orr: Fuel sense-making-

Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. Jon, are you ready to dive into this episode, number 101, with our friend Howie?

Jon Orr: Of course, Kyle, of course. We are honored to bring Howie on this episode. And, before we get to our conversation with Howie, we want to take a few moments to talk about the 2020 Make Math Moments Virtual Summit, which is coming up on Saturday, November 7th and Sunday, November 8th, which is now open for registration. And, if you listen to episode number 100, then you know all about it. But if you haven't listened to episode 100, we encourage you to get back there and listen to it because you get a really great preview of what this summit is going to look like.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, absolutely, Jon, this is one of our favorite times of the year because we get the honor of bringing some amazing minds from the math education space, just like Howie in today's episode, straight to you where we'll dive deeper. The podcast is kind of sparking this PD learning journey for you. And we like to think that fueling your PD learning is that virtual summit.

Jon Orr: Yeah. So if you want some amazing professional learning from the comfort of your couch, we encourage you to pause this episode and go register right now at makemathmoments.com/summit. That will get you in and registered so you can participate in November.

Kyle Pearce: Yes. And this is our second annual three online math professional development summit for all K through 12 and beyond educators. The dates again are Saturday, November 7th and Sunday, November 8th. And like I mentioned, Howie from this episode is going to be one of our over 30 speakers.

Jon Orr: Coolest part is some of the sessions are happening live over Zoom this year while others are prerecorded for you to enjoy at your convenience over the weekend, and up to a week afterwards on the replay section.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff. This year, some of our speakers include past guests from the show like fellow Canadians, Peter Liljedahl and our friend Judy Larsen. They're going to be leading a session called Thinking About Building Thinking Classrooms Across Contexts.

Jon Orr: And also don't forget about our other great Canadian friend, Sunil Singh, who was one of our recent guests on this podcast and his presentation Storytelling: Why Math History Belongs in Our K-12 Classrooms.

Kyle Pearce: I don't know who should be more excited about the summit, the Math Moment Maker community or us. We get really, really excited. And you should be too. Head on over to makemathmoments.com/summit to get yourself all registered up.

Jon Orr: Yeah, and if you're listening after this year's summit, replays are up until November 13th, and then they'll be in the Academy for all of our members to gobble up at will.

Kyle Pearce: Hop on into that summit makemathmoments.com/summit to catch those replays. Or, to find out how you can get into the Academy to watch them, head to makemathmoments.com/academy.

Jon Orr: All right, enough from us. Let's get onto our fantastic conversation with Howie. Hey there, Howie. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. We are so excited to have you on the show today. How are you doing today?

Howie Hua: I'm all right. Fresno is really hot. Luckily I'm just staying inside, so I'm not really feeling it too much. Yeah, thanks for having me. It's kind of unreal being on this podcast.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, absolutely. We chatted a while back about trying to get you on. And I know it was a busier time. Not to say now is not a busy time, because as we're actually recording, a lot of people are still trying to get through this online learning sort of thing, so that might come up a little later in the conversation. But before we do, tell us a little about yourself, for someone who may not know you like we do from Twitter. Tell us a little more about yourself. What is your math teaching slash educating journey?

Howie Hua: Well, my name is Howie Hua. I am a Fresno State math instructor. My math teaching story is a little long, even though I'm kind of young. I actually majored in biology at Fresno State for the first semester because I wanted to be a doctor. And then I realized that I get emotional really easily, I get sad really easily. And I knew that no matter how good I was as a doctor, I knew that people would die on me. And I really let myself go through that. So I decided that I needed to change my major. And at time I was registering for classes, I'm like, I kind of want to take calc two just for fun. Just because one was known as the pinnacle of math. And I'm like, well, what do people with math degrees do? So I was like, well, if I want to change my major and I kind of want to take calc two just for fun, I might as well just major in math.
I had a really good high school math teacher, Mr. Trejo, all four years of high school, and he really made math fun for me. So I'm like, you know what? I'll just be a high school math teacher. People ask me for help anyways in math, so might as well make it a profession. So I got my Bachelor's in math. I did the single subject credential where I student taught in eighth grade and high school for a year. And, I didn't really apply for jobs because I didn't feel ready because I didn't have a good response to, when are we going to use this in the real world? So, I went back for a Master's in math, at Fresno State. And I did my Master's project on a time series analysis of Fresno County Wells because I wanted to do something applied, so I can go back into the classroom and say, "Hey, look, math is really important. We can use math to model a real life situation."
And during that time I was co-teaching these classes for future elementary school teachers with Diana Harrington, who was a retired high school math teacher. And I really liked it so much that I applied for a position after I graduated and I got it, and I just finished my fourth year with that.

Jon Orr: That's an interesting story. And I think, when I reflect on your original plan of becoming a doctor, that just scares me just right there. And for me, the whole becoming a doctor is not just scared for someone to die on me, it would just be the whole pressure of everything. And it's all that just riding on your shoulders that you have the health of people in your hands is so immense. And I don't know if I could handle that. Give me your education. I can handle the stress of providing the education to our students, but health is a whole different story. And I applaud.

Kyle Pearce: I can't even do that, Jon. I cannot be around even the thought of blood. When people tell gory stories, I'm on the floor. So, at least both of you, I've made it past that stage. I'm just nowhere near even considering that realm.

Jon Orr: Yeah. I definitely applaud all of our healthcare workers for that, that's for sure, because it takes a certain kind of person. Howie, we ask this all to all of our guests about memorable math moments. And the way we usually phrase this question is to think back to your experience in school and schooling and if we just mention the words math class, images flash into people's brains and minds that triggers emotions or memories. And we're wondering, when we say math class, what is being triggered in your head?

Howie Hua: Yeah, so three years ago, I had my favorite math moment. I was teaching arithmetic and geometric sequences to my students. So I put up about five or six sequences on the board and I told them, just work with your group for maybe 10 minutes and find the 100th term of each of these sequences. And one of them in particular was the sequence three, seven, 11, 15, 19 dot dot dot. And it was only my second or third year of teaching, so I'm in my head, I was really hoping that they would say, okay, we're starting at three. If we're looking for the 100th term, we need to jump four 99 times. And I was really hoping for that because that really helps us derive the arithmetic sequence formula. And when we talked about it as a class, that did come up, and then a student raised his hand and he said, "I got the same answer, but I did it a different way."
So you won't believe what he did. I'm like, "Okay, can you come up on the board and show us?"

Jon Orr: Let's hear it.

Howie Hua: The arithmetic sequence was three, seven, 11, 15, 19. So what he did was he grabbed the marker and he wrote four, eight, 12, 16, 20 underneath those numbers. And he said, "Well, I realized that all of these numbers are one minus the multiple of four. So if I'm looking for the 100th term, I just need to do four times 100 and then subtract one to get 399." And my mind just exploded because I'm like, I never saw it that way. And what I really liked about it was that it really ties in explicitly with the formula of four n takeaway one, which is the arithmetic sequence formula for that three, seven, 11, 15, 19 sequence. And I'm like, wow, four n takeaway one is literally just the multiples of four and then chop off one. And I never realized that until that student came up on the board. And, I think of arithmetic sequences so differently now. It's just an X number away from multiples of a number, like seven n take away three is just the multiples of seven, but just lower it by three.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, absolutely. It blows my mind. First of all, I want to applaud you that you invited the student up, because I know for quite some time I would have not, and I know a lot of teachers struggle with this when they sort of in their mind have procedurally learnt something and they're thinking, this is the way it's done. Usually it's what we would call in the math world, this efficient method or the most efficient strategy. And to have the courage to allow students to share their thinking, even though you're kind of wondering like, ah, I wonder if I'm going to understand what this student is saying, and being okay with that. Right?
I think that's the biggest piece is being able to, if a student did go up there and you weren't really following their solution, to be able to say, wow, interesting and maybe open it up to the class. I know for a long time, I was very afraid to do that. And it wasn't until I started seeing patterns visually, first through Joel Bowler and then through visualpatterns.org, those tools really helped expose me to it. But it sounds like, for you, through the arithmetic sequence, you got the experience almost taught by a student. That's a pretty cool experience, wouldn't you think?

Howie Hua: Yeah, of course. I really try to think of open-ended problems where there's multiple entry points, so I can learn from my students every day.

Kyle Pearce: For sure.

Jon Orr: And that's something I think I also have learned along the way, that if we just give our students the chance to showcase thinking, that that opens the doors to so many different approaches, so many different things we can do with the class. And I was like Kyle. I was a very traditional teacher that wouldn't have probably risked doing that in my class, to allow that. But once you saw that, it changed the perception of my students in my class. For example, I taught for many, many, many years, a class of grade nine students who traditionally have been told that they were not so great at math and come up through a track or a stream kind of aimed at not the highest level. And I always had these preconceived notions in my old self of what those students knew or didn't know. And I used to just assume that they didn't think about math in a certain way.
And it was similar to you, Howie, that it was a linear relation kind of problem, a patterning problem, a linear pattern problem, where they showed me different ways to come up with the hundredth term or the 43rd term or the 68th term. And it was then that was like, oh man, I got to build on this. I got to use their thinking to tie it to different thinking, or use two different kids, ways that they're thinking about the problem and tie them together. And that can be much more powerful than what I was doing in the past. So that's awesome that you got to experience that too. Howie, we understand that you're teaching pre-service teachers and you have a focus on math perception and content knowledge and all kinds of other goodies. Is there anything different now compared to when you first started doing this in teaching pre-service teachers? Is there anything early on that you wish you'd done differently or wish you knew then that you know now? I'm just curious about comparisons to when we first start to where we are now.

Howie Hua: Yeah, of course. One thing that I'm still going towards is moving away from points and moving more towards standards based grading. And that is one thing that I'm still in the progress of going through. And I realized that motivation is very different compared to the point system versus standards based grading. Because, for the point system, students might say, oh, I need to get so-and-so points on the final to pass the class versus standards grading is, oh, I need to learn the content to pass the class. And I've been really focusing on motivation with students and making sure that the motivation is just right in my view, because I don't think a point system would last very long in terms of their motivation.

Kyle Pearce: I'm curious, before we dive deeper, when teachers or pre-service teachers are coming in, what perspective do they have on mathematics? Is this a group... I know, for example, here in Ontario, and I believe you're in California. California, correct?

Howie Hua: Yes.

Kyle Pearce: Yes. Okay. I wanted to make sure. I had a little bit of a brain freeze there for a second. Here in Ontario, when we're doing math, if you're going and preparing to be a high school math teacher, you're in a kind of a group of teachers who are going to be high school math teachers, whereas if you're going in elementary, which also includes the middle grades here in Ontario, you are going to be teaching multiple subject areas. So, I'm wondering, ,what would the dynamic be for the teachers that are coming in these pre-service teachers coming in, are they all destined to be math teachers? Or are they more of like a generalist in terms of, I'm going to have to do different courses in order to be able to teach different subject areas? Just to kind of give us a little perspective around that. And then, I'm curious about, I guess, where's their mindset when they arrive into your world when you're trying to help nudge them along their journey?

Howie Hua: Yeah. So the degree that they need to obtain is a liberal studies degree. So I don't know about any of the other subjects, but they need to take three math courses in there. And then they take some science courses, some English and linguistic courses, and all of that. So it's definitely an overall thing. It helps them teach K to six grades, kindergarten to sixth grade. And their mindset, maybe like the first week or two before the semester starts, I send them a student autobiography Google slide where they talk about themselves, just to get to know each other.
And one of the questions that I ask them is, what is your view on math? And in the past four years that I've done this, 80% roughly of students have some sort of math anxiety. They say that they waited until their senior year to take these courses because they're scared of math. They even pull themselves into a grade level that they want to teach. For example, a couple semesters ago, a student says that she wants to teach kindergarten and only kindergarten because she doesn't want to teach fractions. So math anxiety is real. inaudible

Jon Orr: It's surprising that I think that people will kind of gravitate towards different grade levels on their comfort level of math. And it's quite understandable that so many elementary teachers have that math anxiety and fear of math. I'm wondering about your standards based grading. You've moved into that with these students. And how are they viewing that? When Kyle and I talk with other teachers about standards based grading, some of the pushback from students themselves in high school or middle school we hear is, it's different and I'm not sure how this goes. And I just kind of want to go to my test, and kids get unsure of say assessment practices. And I'm wondering how it's been going for you specifically in standards based grading with your students? And then maybe more specifically, do you think this is helping with the math anxiety?

Howie Hua: Yeah. So I wanted to touch on your assessments. I do something a little special that me and my co-teacher thought of a couple of years ago, where we give them five minutes to talk about the test. So they put their pencils the ground and they just talk about the test with their group members for five minutes, just to lower some anxiety, because I know people have math anxiety and test anxiety. So we just give them five minutes to talk, without pencils or anything, just so we can focus on conversation, and then they do it by themselves.
And we also do test provisions as well. Of course, with reflections of, I got this partially incorrect because, I now know, and then they do the problem again. I'm definitely not a master of standards based grading. It just started literally when the pandemic started. So I told them a month before the semester ended, I said, you know what? I really hope this is okay, but we're just going to scrap our point system. Instead, you're going to give me 10 problems that you feel comfortable with, you're going to make it up, and you're going to answer them to the best of your ability, of course, with explanation skills. So that's not really standards-based grading, but it's closer to what I want.

Kyle Pearce: For sure. And you know, we've talked about that a few times, well, a number of times on the podcast about the benefit. And I think it helps everyone get a better sense as to what we're aiming for. So, that idea of you're learning goals, your success criteria, and essentially, really, I think it helps us as the instructor, as the educator or the facilitator of the learning, to ask better questions and to be able to ask more specific questions to kind of get to the root of things. And I'm really curious, and I want to flip back to a few other ideas around the mindset of some of your teachers, especially since you've shared that 80% oftentimes are coming in with this math anxiety and some are feeling almost limited to the grade level they can teach based on that anxiety. It's not that they can't do it.
It's that, obviously, they haven't had a positive experience with the mathematics. I'm wondering, when a teacher comes in, do you have any strategies on how you're going to, for example, this teacher, who's saying she doesn't want to do fractions, and thus she's going to teach only kindergarten, how do you help get into some of these concepts that you know ahead of time some of the teachers in the room are going to be not feeling so excited about? I'm picturing, I mean, it sounds like it's the same as teaching some students in high school, for example, who have had a really bad experience with mathematics. Now they're just grownups and we're in the same position. What are you thinking when you're planning and you want to sort of reengage them with this content to show that it actually is accessible and it's something that they can engage with?

Howie Hua: Yeah. I could literally talk about strategies for like an hour on mindset. But, I would like to share Jose Filson's tweet that he shared early May that says, "Most of my work as a math teacher isn't even math. It's helping students believe that they can also do math. We don't talk about that enough." And, I cannot put it in more better words than what Jose did. And literally half my job is just showing them that they can do math. So on the first day, I do three activities with them. The first one is, I want you to think of someone that you know that's good at math, someone that you know personally. It could be your past teacher, it could be your parents, it could be your sibling, it could be your friend from high school. And then I have them think about that person for about 10 seconds.
And then I tell them, can you think of qualities that make them good at math? And then they share with their group members and then we share it out loud. And I ask them for the top five qualities that make someone good at math. And, I've done this for, I think three semesters now, and four phrases that always pop up are patience, perseverance, always asks questions, is flexible with their thinking. And I tell them, "Hey, look at all of these things. Notice that all of these things can be practiced, and no one said anything about, oh, you're just born with your ability. You're either good or you're bad at it. All of these things are practiced. So can we practice these five things throughout the semester?" And they usually nod their heads and say yes. But I really like that activity because you can also talk about myths as well, like being a good memorizer doesn't necessarily mean that you're good at math.
And of course, math is not about speed. So if someone says, "Oh, you need to be fast at math to be good at it." We talk about that as well. But in the three semesters that I've done this, no one has talked about that yet.

Kyle Pearce: About speed?

Howie Hua: Yeah. In terms of the top five qualities that make someone good at math.

Jon Orr: You know, that's surprising because I feel like if I ask that to someone who's not say studying to become a math teacher, just someone on the street. You go ask your father or your uncle or your mother or a cousin or anyone. And I always feel like most people would say quick calculations would be their top kind of skill as why you're good or not so great at math. And I had a conversation with a friend last night about that same issue. Right now, their parents are teaching our kids at home. And they're talking about the new math versus the old math. And, this father was trying to break their daughters away from say the area model for multiplication and, and saying, it's all mumbo jumbo versus I can do this calculation over here quickly. And we had the conversation last night about, that we were fundamentally seeing math as something different. He was seeing math as quick calculations versus say understanding underlying concepts or problem solving. So, I'm very surprised to hear that these teachers didn't say quickness was important.

Howie Hua: Yeah. Two more activities that I do on the first day is the 20 words or phrases activity. So I tell them to think of 20 words or phrases associated with their K-12 math experience. So it could be anything from what a homework assignment is like to how the desks are arranged to if it's teacher centered or student centered. You could throw in some emotional words if you want. And we just throw it on the board. Some words are like one to 31 odd for homework, or teacher talks all the time, or intimidating teachers, or boring, or it's all about procedures. Not a lot of positive words.
Some people say group collaboration, but it's definitely in the minority. And I ask them, "Do you want this to be your classroom in the next couple of years?" And they say, "No." I'm like, "Okay, great. Let's exchange the words that you don't want into words that you do want. So, rather than teacher centered, you can say, let's do student centered where we honor student thinking. Or rather than individual desks, we can put them in groups. Or rather than one to 31 odd, we could just do two problems a night or no homework at all until we get our ideal classroom." And then I take a picture of the board and then I say, "Okay, let's try to model this in this classroom to see if you like it."

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. That is such a fantastic activity. And it reminds me, we share some of these different activities. I know going back to your five qualities, something that we like to do in our live workshops, as well as our online workshop, we ask teachers, what do you want your students to remember from your math class five years from now? And, I see it kind of nicely fitting with this five qualities thing is another angle that you can take with that, which I love. And then this 20 words and phrases is so great because I see it bringing to the surface, first of all, it gives you a good understanding of what everyone's perspective is. And I know Jon, and maybe he can speak to this in a moment, he likes to use an activity at the start of every year, the math is like activity. And you can learn so much about where a student's coming from, whether they're a high school student, a middle school student, a younger student, or a student that's in pre-service for their math teaching certificate.
And I love how you can kind of address it and then use that as a way to kind of build off of how we're going to run the culture of our entire year, which is pretty fantastic. And I'm hearing that, by exchanging some of these words, that's such a fantastic activity. And I think this episode is going to provide a lot of teachers so much benefit in bringing these activities into their own classroom culture. Because I think, especially when you have students that are coming in that you know there's a high chance that they have math anxiety or have maybe sort of looked at themselves as not a math person at some point in their life, before you build this mindset and before you kind of break down that barrier, it's really difficult for us to get to the actual sense-making around things like fractions or these ideas that students have sort of fallen off the math wagon somewhere along the way.
So, before we move up on and start thinking about how we're going to wrap up this podcast, I'm wondering, do you have any other mindset activity in it? This is sort of a nice little lob ball here because I know you are all about mindset in math class. So I'm wondering, do you have another big, juicy takeaway for listeners at home that they can kind of run and steal from Howie today?

Howie Hua: Yeah, of course. So I think it was last year where I started to, I made a frame that says I am a math person. So on the end of the first day, I have each person take a picture with that frame that says, I am a math person. And I told them that you need to breathe it into existence. If you think that you're not a math person, you're not going to grow as much as someone who believes they are a math person. So I have them take a picture of it, as goofy as it sounds. And this past semester I book ended my semester with that frame. So the first day we took a picture with the frame, and one of the last assignments is to reflect on how they grew as a math person. So I sent them a Google slide where they post that picture that they took on the first day and then they reflect on how they grew as a math person throughout the semester.

Jon Orr: I love that final reflection and how it ties all together, where you do something in the beginning and then something at the end. I think I was reading a book called When by Daniel Pink, and he talks about the two most important things. And When is a book about, it's not a mathematics books, it's not a teaching book. It's just a book about the importance of timing. And he says the two most important things when you're considering doing anything is the beginning and the end. And I really like how you're tying the beginning to the end and starting also the beginning off on a great foot, and then also tying it together to the end. And I think it kind of hits home for people and educators. And it reminds me of what Kyle kind of was talking about on our first day. And I think our first year day is so important because of that timing.
But I have kids, it's similar, where I have students fill out math is like, and then dot dot dot, and they have to finish the sentence with us. Math is like a rollercoaster and then I have to explain why, or math is like a swamp and then I have to explain why. And I think it brings out the underlying feelings towards math. And it's similar to yours where we say, these are going to set the tone for the year. If you're saying math is a swamp, our goal is to get our mindset away from that and into something where hopefully this year you don't think math is a swamp anymore and we can rephrase that at the end. And that's what we do at the end of the semester too, is we come back to those math is like statements.
We hand them back out and we go over them again and see if we've changed our minds or not. And that's also kind of a goal, for me as a teacher, to make sure that I address those throughout the year of the mindsets of our students. And the funny thing is how I learned that strategy during my pre-service days when I was a pre-service teacher. My teacher had that activity for us. And it kind of brings me to wondering about that. I took that activity and used it in my classroom. Do you hear back from your students or know of your students who say, these are activities you're trying to do for your students to understand their mindset? Do you see your students going off and doing that in their own classrooms?

Howie Hua: I've definitely heard end of the semester reflections on that they're planning on using the five minute test talk or that they're planning on doing tips of the day that I usually do. But I do try to keep in touch with my students. I started a newsletter this past semester, just because I'm only in my fourth year teaching these courses, but I definitely don't want to lose connection with them. So, I send a newsletter to them every other week, just so they can keep learning from me. So I send them teaching strategies, life lessons, book recommendations, and all of that. And I have a Google form where I say, "Hey, can you catch up with me? Tell me how your life's been." So I'm eager to hear from them from the newsletter.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, no, that's such a fantastic idea and I'm sure that's going to shape up and be a really good benefit moving forward. And I'm looking at the time and we are going to start wrapping this conversation up. But before we do, I have a curiosity because I don't know much about it, but I hear it's pretty cool. I'm wondering, what are tips of the days all about? Can you share that with the Math Moment Maker community, before we look to start wrapping this thing up with a nice bow?

Howie Hua: Oh yeah, tips of the day, I always start out with them. And they could be anything. They could be math related, teaching related. I do also mental health related tips of the day. So some of the math ones that are my favorites are, math is not about speed, math is the study of patterns, math is a visual subject. Some teaching tips are teachers and students are on the same side, because when I was in college, I would think that I just need to get past this math instructor in order to get my degree. But you need to realize that we're all on the same side. I'm here to help you. And your GPA doesn't define how great of a teacher you can be. I know a lot of people really care about their GPA. I was that type of student as well, but then I realized after a couple of years of teaching, I'm like, why did I stress so much? I don't think my GPA really affects who I am as a teacher. So I just wanted to share that insight with them.

Kyle Pearce: It seems like it's so simple in its structure, but so important and can have such an impact, right? Just that quick little reflection each day. And I think the one that you were saying that teachers and students are on the same side, I think that's one that teachers often, somewhere along the way, it's like we get so focused on our planning and delivering lessons. And we focus so much on those students who are struggling that sometimes we forget to see the big picture. And sometimes, maybe, we feel like we're kind of battling all on our own. And in reality, like we're trying to get to the same place. I could see how that could be really helpful for teachers, especially pre-service teachers who are coming in learning about teaching. They may not have had such a great mindset. So it's great to have these reminders coming up and just little things to think about, to kind of reflect on. So I think that's great.

Howie Hua: Yeah. I have mandatory office hours for my students. I say, "You need to come at least twice. Once before test one, just so I can get to know you a little more, and once after test one, just to see how you're doing in this class and how you're doing overall." I also do some mental health tips of the days. Two of my favorites are, your mental health is more important than your GPA, and, don't wait to be successful to be happy. I read in the book, The Happiness Advantage, that happiness breeds success, not the other way around. So just don't wait until you graduate to be happy. Once you're happy now, you will be successful in whatever you do because of that mind shift.

Jon Orr: Howie, do you have a list that you, have you created all of these for every school day of the semester?

Howie Hua: Honestly, no. I've done this for about five years, so I already have some in my head, but it's definitely in no order. Sometimes it relates to the lesson, sometimes it just happens on the drive there. But yeah.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. It's kind of like timing. Sometimes the timing is just right for one versus another, right?

Howie Hua: Yeah. And the reason why I do it in separate days is it's really important to humanize the math classroom for me. And, that also means to humanize the teacher role. Every teacher has a lot of knowledge that is not in the curriculum. So this is my way of embedding myself in the curriculum for 30 to 45 seconds a day.

Kyle Pearce: I know that goes a long way. I know that your students would latch onto your teaching and your teaching style, just because you're showing them a little bit about yourself, you're showing them who you are, and I think that is underestimated in the math classroom right now, especially in high school. We need more teachers showing they're human and doing human things instead of just robots in front of classrooms that are just delivering content. And I'm know that your students are say so much better off because of that. Howie, this has been a fantastic conversation, and I know that teachers will have some great math mindset reframe activities to put in their toolkits. Where can the Math Moment Maker community learn more about Howie?

Howie Hua: You can always DM me on Twitter. I'm super DM friendly. @howie_hua. That's @H-O-W-I-E underscore H-U-A. Or if you don't have Twitter, you can also email me hhua@csufresno.edu.

Kyle Pearce: Well listen, Howie, I think we provided, I say we, really, Jon and I have sat back and you've done all the heavy lifting, which is great. So you've provided the Math Moment Maker community with some real gems, some real great tips and strategies around shifting mindset and just essentially just ways of thinking. And I really like at the end, a big takeaway for me, is the idea of not waiting. Happiness should come first. You have to be happy first. Don't wait until you graduate to be happy. Because I think when you get on that train, it's like, well, you get to graduation and then it's like, well, I'll wait until I get my job to be happy, and I'll wait until I get a better position at my job to be happy, or I'll get to a different school closer to home to be.
I think really reframing that, and that to me is a real big one, and I think could be a real helpful piece, especially for pre-service teachers, but then also for some of those hardworking Math Moment Makers that are listening right now that may have been teaching for five years or even 25 years and really just need that big picture thought. So we want to thank you again for hanging out with us this afternoon, and we wish you well here as we head into the summertime, and we hope to get in touch with you again sometime soon, either on Twitter or face to face at an upcoming conference when we get back to face-to-face conferences.

Howie Hua: Yeah, of course. Thank you so much for having me. Like I said, it's unreal being on this podcast because I listen to you all the time. Thank you so much.

Jon Orr: Thank you.

Kyle Pearce: Thank you so much, Howie. We want to thank Howie again, for spending some time with us, to share his ideas and insights with us, and you, the Math Moment Maker community.

Jon Orr: Yes, for sure. That was a great convo. And before we sign off here today, we want to make sure that you still remember about the 2020 Make Math Moments Virtual Summit, which is coming up in Saturday, November 7th and Sunday, November 8th. It's now open for registration. Get on over there.

Kyle Pearce: Yes. With that free registration, you will be able to get some amazing math professional learning right from the comfort of your couch. And we encourage you to pause, right now, and head on over to makemathmoments.com/summit to register for the 2020 Make Math Moments Virtual Summit.

Jon Orr: Yeah. That's our second annual free online professional development conference for K through 12 educators. And the dates, again, are November 7th and November 8th. And, Howie from this episode is one of our speakers.

Kyle Pearce: Coolest part yet. Some of the sessions are live over Zoom while others are going to be prerecorded for you to enjoy at the convenience of your own schedule over the weekend and up to a week afterwards on replay.

Jon Orr: This year, some of our speakers include past guests from the show like our good friend and fellow Canadian transplant to Georgia, Graham Fletcher, who is doing a session called Developing Fact Fluency Through Context.

Kyle Pearce: And we also have a math friend from just across the Detroit River from us in Michigan, Desiree Harrison, who's leading a session called Strategies for Coaching Teachers Remotely. That's going to be one that I'm super excited to check out.

Jon Orr: And I don't know who's going to be more excited? You the listener or us? The Math Moment Maker community is just gearing up for this year's summit. So head over to makemathmoments.com/summit to get registered.

Kyle Pearce: If you're listening after this year's summit, the replays are up until November 13th and then they'll be tossed into the Make Math Moments Academy for all members to gobble up at will for as long or as short of a time as they'd like.

Jon Orr: Hop over to makemathmoments.com/summit to catch the replays or to find out how you can get into the Academy to watch them.

Kyle Pearce: Show notes and links to resources including transcripts from this episode can be found makemathmoments.com/episode101. That is makemathmoments.com/episode101.

Jon Orr: We release a new episode every Monday morning, so keep an eye out for our next episode.

Kyle Pearce: Well, until next time, I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: and I'm Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.

Jon Orr: And high fives for you.

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1 Comment

  1. Diana DeOchoa

    This podcast was so beneficial to me as a math student. I am one that has never liked math but only because I have fear of math. After listening to this, my mindset has changed about what makes a person good at math. Practicing the qualities mentioned in this podcast can be worked at. I believe that I can be a math person too!


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