Episode #116: How to Use Mindfulness to Change Trajectories – An Interview with Christina Lincoln-Moore
Christina Lincoln-Moore an innovative Constructivist educational leader who is tenacious and profoundly dedicated to mindful project-based learning to engender formidable mathematics identities.
She is currently an Assistant Principal as well as a featured speaker focused on the humanization of mathematics for traditionally marginalized students.
Her professional presentations include the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and California Mathematics Council. Christina serves as the State Secretary for the California Mathematics Council (CMC) and Equity, Access, and Empowerment Chairperson of the California Mathematics Council: Southern Section (CMCS). Mrs. Lincoln-Moore is the Founder of Talk Number 2 Me™ Mathematics Consulting.
- Why mindfulness is needed in mathematics classes.
- How to be a bucket-filler for your students and for yourself.
- How to be a daring leader who values identity and mindfulness.
Christina’s Website → www.Talknumber2me.com
Christina Moore: ... and my area in the book, is really where I believe is the empower chapter, about beliefs, and mindsets, and challenging biases, and creating a culture as a mathematical leader. And it's really about, what's going on in our world right now, which side of history do you want to be on? Do you want to be on the side with the status quo? Or do you want to be the one who challenged, and advocated for your children's hearts? So-
Kyle Pearce: Hey Math Moment Makers, that is Christina Lincoln Moore, an innovative, constructivist, educational leader, who is tenacious, and profoundly dedicated to mindful project-based learning, to engender formidable mathematics identities. She is currently an assistant principal, and as well, she's a featured speaker focused on the humanization of mathematics for traditionally marginalized students.
Jon Orr: Her professional presentations include the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and California Mathematics Council. Christina serves as the state secretary for the California Mathematics Council, and equity, access and empowerment chairperson for the California Mathematics Council. Southern section, Mrs. Lincoln Moore is the founder of Talk Number 2 Me Mathematics Consulting. We chat with Christina today about important aspects of math class that you won't want to miss.
Kyle Pearce: All right, Jon and Math Moment Makers, let's do it. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr from mrorr-isageek.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: Pure sense making.
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. Jon, are you ready to hop on a call with Christina, our dear friend who has joined us in our virtual summits in the past?
Jon Orr: Of course, Kyle, we are honored to bring on Christina in this episode.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome. Before we dive in and get to our talk with Christina, we want to thank you for listening to us, wherever you are around the world. And actually, you know what? Why don't you stop right now, and snap a pic of what you're doing. We love when we do this, we haven't done this in a while. Are you on a run, walking the dog, or maybe you're just enjoying your morning coffee, stop, take a pic right now, and tag us on our Facebook page at Make Math Moments, or @makemathmoments on Twitter and Instagram. We'd love to see what you are up to.
Jon Orr: After that, why not leave us a five-star review over on Apple podcasts. We read all the reviews of this podcast, and how we'd love to share one of those reviews. This one is from L. Rocca on Apple podcasts.
Kyle Pearce: L. Rocca says, podcast for growth mindset teachers. I recommend this podcast to anyone wanting to learn how to make math moments in their classroom. I wish it was around when I first started teaching. Thank you guys for your resources, your interviews, and your motivation to help our students.
Jon Orr: Kyle isn't this fantastic? Nothing energizes us more, than to keep on recording these episodes, when we hear reviews and ratings coming in like that.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And it's so awesome, especially when we get those reviews from outside of the North American space. Where are you coming from? Are you coming from Australia? We got tons of listeners over there now. We have some friends from Israel. Now when we check, and we can see where these downloads are happening, we're seeing all kinds of new countries popping up, and those download numbers going up. So, have you taken 10 seconds to hit pause, scroll down in your podcast app, and go ahead and tap that five stars. But really though Jon, you and I both know, we do want an honest rating and review. So, if you don't think five stars is right, definitely, do not hit that five stars, hit what you think the show deserves. But most importantly, give us that quick feedback, we love hearing from you. We just want to get a sense as to what's resonating with you, so we can try our best to offer you even more podcast episodes related to those big takeaways.
Jon Orr: Yeah, that would just mean the world to us. All right, Kyle, that's enough from us. Let's get over to our fantastic conversation with Christina. Hey there Christina, welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. As always, we are so excited to have you, and all of our guests on the show. How are you doing today?
Christina Moore: I'm doing really well. Thank you.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff. We are really excited to have you, and as Jon mentioned, we love bringing on all of our new guests, but it's something a little more special, when we get to bring on some of our friends from some of our past virtual summits. So those who were a part of that virtual summit last year in November, 2019, may remember that you had a session in there. So, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little about yourself, your role in education, and how did you land, or end up in this crazy world of math education?
Christina Moore: Indeed. Well, I didn't always want to be a teacher, I have to admit it, but it spoke to me. I've always had this passion to help others. And when I decided to become a teacher, I knew that focusing on math, I was elementary school teacher for 17 and a half years, was my focus. Because I remember how I felt, when I was sitting in that seat as a student, I remember dropping out of trig, because I didn't understand anything. It was like a different language, I didn't understand why, and I kept asking why my teacher let me drop out. So, I didn't have that teacher that said, okay, let me work with you. So when I decided to become a teacher, I knew I was never going to let a student fail in mathematics, and feel like I felt.
Jon Orr: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can totally relate to that, in some sense of, I was a kid who grasped math pretty quickly, but I also didn't feel like I was comfortable in math class. I went into that math route, because later on, I felt more comfortable, but I think it was more, we've talked about this on the show before, I felt like I was really comfortable in memorizing procedures in playing the math game. And my dad was a math teacher, it's not like I felt any pressure to go into math, but I felt like I could see that career, I could see that. But I don't think I felt super comfortable. I had lots of memories of my teacher selecting me to go to a math problem solving day. And my teacher, I think, thought I was good at math, and when I reflect, I don't think I was. And I think they were mistaken, and they were maybe looking at the wrong things. And what it was, I think is, they were focused on the procedures as I was, and then when I went to this problem solving day, I remember, the first question went up on the screen, and everyone starts into work, and I had no idea. That was one of those, I don't feel this is my place, my home.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, it sounds like Jon, I think you and I, we were pretty successful at faking it, but deep inside, we didn't actually feel like math students. And I'm wondering if we can dig a little deeper here Christina, because I'm picturing your scenario with, you were mentioning trig, and trig is one of those things that, I tell people when I'm running workshops, I'm still working on trig from a conceptual standpoint, to really feel super flexible with it. And there's things now that I look at, and I think holy smokes, I had no idea that that was what was actually going on under the hood. And I'm wondering when we think about what your role in education is now, how were you able to overcome that? What in you, and maybe at what point were you able to say, you know what? I can do this. Maybe I didn't feel like I could do it then, but you knew that deep inside, everybody can do this. There is a way I just wasn't helped to be shown that way. I'm wondering, when did that happen for you? And tell us a little bit more of how that landed you into your role now, where mathematics is obviously at the core of what you do in education.
Christina Moore: So, there was definitely a turning point. I was always focused on trying to make math fun with songs, making the algorithms with songs, and all these things. But the turning point, was when I was introduced to my dear Cathy Fosnot. Once I saw the light, and my question of why was now answered. Now, I understood how the distributive property worked, I understood... And it was just like, oh my, this is what I had been missing all this time. And to actually see how math works in the real world. It just opened up a whole new world for me. And then, I was just on fire, and then I just took off, and I was doing PDs at my school. And then I ended up becoming the math coach, and then after a common core math coach, then I became an assistant principal, that has been my focus. The last school that I was at, they're doing really well in mathematics, and I'm very proud of that. I'm just so passionate about it. But I have to say that turning point was definitely Cathy Fosnot.
Jon Orr: She's influenced a lot of what we do in our classrooms, and also the work that we're doing here on Make Math Moments. And we talked to her on episode 24. And she's got so many great insights, and so much great learning for us. Her landscapes of learning are helping us build out developmental units for middle school and high school students. So we've been inaudible a lot of her work to... Or extend that work. But I'm wondering Christina, what specifically do you think that was about Cathy's work, or is it the work? Or is it her delivery? I'm just curious to get your take on, what was it? So we've got listeners here who are like, Cathy Fosnot inaudible who that is. And you want to give them a snapshot of what was it that she taught you, or you learned from her specifically. What would you say is the biggest learning you had?
Christina Moore: Well, here's the thing, when I talk to teachers about Cathy Fosnot, I say that she taught me as the teacher. There weren't just lessons for students, but I as a mathematician, as a growing educator in mathematics, I was taught. It wasn't just read this lesson, and do it with the kids, my own understanding grew. You were speaking of the landscape for learning, I was able then to just listen in to my students talk, I knew where they were in the landscape, and that felt so empowering. And then I had something to do with it, I could give them. I knew how to question them to advance their thinking. Maya Angelou says, you do the best you can, and when you know better, you do better. So, as a training teacher, time tests, that was what fluency was. But when I learned what fluency was, because I saw what it was doing to my students, but I was like, "Well, I'll just make it more fun." But no, it was still hurting them.
So, when I learned about this beautiful world, it just changed everything. And it made my classroom a more happy place, and it was always a fun place, that's what's it's going to be. When I was in the classroom, my discipline system, what frame my whole classroom was Cathy McCloud's, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? And so, that is all that we each hold an invisible bucket, that holds all of the thoughts and feelings of ourselves. So we are bucket fillers. So in anything that we did, we're always bucket filling, we're filling their bucket. So, I as a teacher, I'm always filling my student's buckets, speaking identity into them. You are a mathematician, you are a scientist, you are a writer, you are a friend, you are this. So, that was the classroom climate that I created, but this added a whole new level. Because it empowered me, as the teacher learner. So, when a student was doing something, and even if I didn't quite understand what they were doing, I could say, "Oh." I knew how to question them, and it just empowered me. And I would never shut a student down, because that's what I see, is teachers shutting down students' thoughts, and their reasoning, because they don't understand it. So, that's one of the things that separates to me, when I learned from Cathy Fosnot, it really taught me as the teacher learner.
Kyle Pearce: So many things are hitting me here. And I think, sometimes we shut down students because we don't understand what it is they're trying to articulate. Sometimes we shut them down because we haven't seen that math isn't a one-way street, and it's not the procedure, or the most efficient way that we're after here. We're after, trying to help, and this is a Cathy word that she uses all the time, but helping kids to become more clever, and really start emerging new ideas, and strategies, and models. And going back to the bucket filler piece, something else too that popped into my mind is, we can try our best to be bucket fillers, and help fill those buckets, our students' buckets. But if we're not actively filling our own buckets with content knowledge, with developing, evolving our mindset, around what mathematics truly is, and maybe stepping back and thinking, maybe my current understanding isn't a complete understanding, I don't think it ever will be complete.
So, if I'm sitting here as I used to, in the early Kyle days, my early Kyle days would be that, this is how it's done. And going right back to the beginning of that last little section, you had mentioned doing songs, and engaging students, and that's something that Jon and I can relate to. We focus so much on engagement, but sometimes we drop the ball on that fueling sense-making piece. I've got chills here, because hearing you speak, reminds me of my own journey, the journey I'm currently on, which is trying to evolve, and trying to fill my own bucket, so that I can help fill other students' buckets, and now in our roles, filling other teacher's buckets. So, so happy you shared Cathy and her work, we'll put her links to her episode in the show notes for those who are listening, and as Jon says, she continues to impact how we plan our problem-based units.
So there's so much there to connect on, and I can't wait to keep diving in here. So before we get too far, I'd love to know, the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast, something that we ask every single guest that comes on the show is, to describe a memorable moment from your own past, your own experience. And you've reflected a little bit on that trigonometry experience, maybe that is your math moment, or maybe there's a different moment that is a defining moment, or a moment that pops into your mind. So when we say math class, what moment pops into your mind? And if it is that trig moment, feel free to elaborate on it, and we can build off of that.
Christina Moore: Well, being in the classroom for a long time, I have a lot of them. But before I tell you that, I want to read just a couple of sentences from Mathematics for Human Flourishing by Francis Su. He's a professor here in California at Harvey Mudd. You cannot separate the proper practice of mathematics, from what it means to be human. For you love another human being, when you honor them, as a dignified mathematical thinker, and believe in their potential to realize their mathematical brilliance. That's my theme song now. Because my story is, in my class as a secondary teacher, I spent my time filling those buckets, building them up, and having their strategies on strategy walls, and it was messy, and just exciting. And one particular student, brilliant. He didn't read well, but brilliant in mathematics, and he came up with the most creative strategies to figure out everything.
His name was on my strategy wall a lot, and it was like, whoa, and I'll call him John, how about we try John's strategy today? And then I would layer on later what that strategy, the formal name of it. So my student goes to the next grade, and that teacher, very rigid, is now recommending him for an IEP. He comes to me, tells me that he's stupid. I am so devastated, his parents come to me. He goes from being brilliant, he thought himself as a mathematician, to I'm an idiot, I'm dumb, because she could not see his brilliance. She couldn't see the creativity in how he saw the world, how he is in a Cathy world, mathematize the world, because of her limited view of mathematics. And that's one of the things that drives me in my work as an administrator, I don't want to have Johns that are devastated, because their brilliance is not seen. So that's one of the things that compels me to do the work that I do.
Jon Orr: Yes, very honorable, and definitely a great way to reflect on why you do what you do. I think it's so important for us to all know why we do what we do. And I'm really happy you brought up France's book and his quote, we just actually talked to Francis a couple of weeks ago, and his episode on our podcast went live this week actually, at the time of this recording, it's episode 82. And we had such a great conversation with him, he had so many great quotes in it. In his book, he also has a great quote that I want to read out here, that it's always going to be with me now. And he is quoting the French philosopher, Simone Weil, and he says that every being cries out silently to be read differently. And he was using that as a means to talking about why we need to consider, that when talking about our teaching mathematics, or studying mathematics, it hits so hard to think about what we're doing in our classrooms, that every kid in your room, is really crying to be read out individually, uniquely, and differently than everybody else. So, really love his work, and I'm so happy that you brought that to the forefront, for us to chat about that.
Christina Moore: Well, it's so important. That's why in my presentations, my focus is on integrating social, emotional learning with mathematics, because the Impact on Identity book with the Danny Martin, Karen Mayfield-Ingram and Julia Aguirre, say that your mathematical identity is just as strong as your gender, your race, your faith. So, we have to develop these positive identities, and how you do that, is the social, emotional learning competencies. How do you build self-awareness, or that self-efficacy that I can do it? Maybe I wouldn't have dropped out of my trig class, if I had someone to say, you can, it's hard, but you can do it. So, to me, that is very important into building students' mathematical identities.
Jon Orr: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And we've seen in those workshop's presentations, you do speak about that, and about mindfulness, and how it's culturally relevant teaching practice. Let's keep going with where you've segued nicely into this. And if we keep talking about that, I'm wondering, for teachers who are listening, what mindfulness strategies, or teaching practices would you recommend? And why? I guess you've articulated a little bit why right there, but maybe elaborate a little bit more for teachers right now listening to say why this is so important, and how they can do that in their classroom.
Christina Moore: Well first, as I introduced this to my staff, that first mindfulness was for them, to develop their own personal practice. Teaching is hard, teaching whatever skin you live in, has another dimension of difficulty. So, self care, and being able to practice self-compassion, is very important. And once I have self-compassion for myself, I can start exuding that to others. With my bucket theory, you can't pour from an empty cup, or empty bucket, I have to give from what I have been given. So, with mindfulness first, is to the teacher, that first you build self resilience, and then we go to self-awareness, and then emotional regulation, and then focusing on healthy relationships. When students develop these skills, how to talk to students, how to listen to students, how to be empathetic, how to truly be kind, that's when the culture of your class, and then emanates through the school, changes. Whether we see ourselves, as each of us as the valued human beings, who are heard, and loved, and what, you are respected, and cared for, just because of who you are.
Doesn't matter what grade you earn, doesn't matter anything, just for being human, you're valued. And when you think from when you're a mindful leader, that is the lens that you look out from when you're making decisions, when you're talking to students. So, I'm not looking at you as a data point, which a lot of administrators tend to think, because we're forced to, because of our testing culture. I think if you, as a human being, I always say Maslow before blooms, what can I do first, to meet those needs? And then we can go on to those other more academic needs. And that social, emotional learning is not a soft skill as it said, it is essential to life. So, if we're not developing that, and having that culture in our classrooms, we can say whatever we want, it's not going to be as powerful, they're not going to learn as much.
I have some students who've just graduated 2020, who I had in second grade. I had been following them through Facebook, and all of this. And why are these kids still trying to talk to me, it's because of the relationships that we've built. I had a former student come from Australia, who was here for one week, and she needed to find me. She had to go through a few schools, to find me. And she was graduating from college, she brought me flowers, I was doing ugly crying. And she was graduating with an engineering degree, and she was saying, "I'm going to cry." Saying that, because of, I believed in her. That helped her, and she never forgot that encouragement that I invested in her. So, they remember how you made them feel. And that's what social, emotional learning, and creating that warm culture in your classroom does. Now I do want to say one thing about that, because some people think that social, emotional learning is a vehicle for compliance, to make children become docile, to follow the rules, and to control them. And that is not what it's about. It's truly about self-awareness, and developing that child as a human being. So, sometimes that's distorted in a way. I was just like, oh, we're going to learn how to breathe, so they be quiet, but no, that's not what we're going for.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. So many ideas again, coming to me, and I'm thinking about those who are listening, and sitting at home, and going, wow, do I spend maybe way too much of my time thinking about the curriculum itself, instead of the student. And we talk about these ideas come up in different ways, all the time about how we tend to hyper focus on the content. And yet the content, is pretty much meaningless, if students don't feel like the educator who's there believes in them. And recently we spoke, actually it reminds us we spoke with Hema Khodai, now would be a handful of episodes ago. And she had a great quote, where she says, "A fractured educator can't teach a whole student." And what I'm hearing from you is that, we have to make sure we take care of ourselves, and that we're mindful ourselves, so that we can help our students to become mindful.
And so that we can give them our all, day in and day out. And it really sounds like, and now that you're in this leadership role in your school, it sounds like you're really doing a great job, helping the teachers around you. That leadership piece is really coming through. You have to have that self care in order to be leaders of ourselves. And you've actually co-authored the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, Essential Actions: Framework for Leadership and Mathematics Education. I won't lie, I had to cheat, and look at that one right there, because I knew there was way too many words. But what do you believe, like now I feel like it's a great segue, because there's so many people listening, and they're saying, okay, I'm in my classroom, and I think I'm on my way. Maybe I'm not there, we're never there yet, we're always working on ourselves, and on our own practice, but they're thinking of how they can help to nudge educators around themselves. So, helping them with these leadership moves, I'm wondering, what do you believe to be the key areas of mathematical leadership? For those who are listening and wondering like, what can I do to be more like Christina? Be more Christina in my building, in my PLC, or my PLN, whatever it might be, whatever the context might be for the listener.
Christina Moore: Wow, thank you for mentioning the book, and one of NCSM's press is Bold Leadership, and we credit a lot to that, to Brene Brown. And one of the things that she says is, "Daring leaders who live into their values, are never silent about hard things." Living into our values, means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. And every day as a leader, and as a teacher leader, you are confronted with that choice every minute. When something happens, am I going to live into my values? Or I'm just going to go with the status quo? And sometimes that results in some people not liking you, because you have to be honest, and speak your truth. But at the end of the day, we have to do what's best for students. And my area in the book, is really where I believe it's the empower chapter, about beliefs, and mindsets, and challenging biases, and creating a culture as a mathematical leader.
And it's really about, what's going on in our world right now, which side of history do you want to be on? Do you want to be on the side with the status quo? Or do you want to be the one who challenge, and advocated for your children's hearts? So, that's what is the motivation when we're making decisions as leaders, and teacher leaders. What is going to be the best for students? So that means I need to give access to challenging math courses to all students. That means that, I integrate social, emotional learning into my mathematics. And that ultimately means, that mathematics will not be a gatekeeper, but a gateway.
Jon Orr: Yeah. The gatekeeper, gateway thing is definitely holding a lot of kids back. And I think, especially in high school, we have algebra, and algebra two, and they definitely are gate keepers to going on, because in my opinion, being a high school teacher, we're working with high school teachers all the time. I feel like when I talk to elementary school teachers, or primary school teachers, they have a better sense of mindfulness, of leadership, of teaching the whole child. And when you talk to high school math teachers especially, it seems like they just say, I'm a math teacher, why am I considering teaching mindfulness strategies? I have to teach the math curriculum. And I know that a lot of our listeners right now, are not that kind of teacher, where teachers who are right on board with teaching these things. But I think a lot of teachers listening right now, have to talk to teachers like that, and have to talk to parents who also might be like that.
It's definitely conversations that we have, with people who aren't seeing these values. I'm wondering, Christina, what could you say to help those teachers out? To say, you know what? There's a teacher in my school that says, I'm a math teacher-
Kyle Pearce: There's too much content, I got to worry about that.
Jon Orr: Yeah, let's let English handle that, or let's let the leadership class handle these other things. I have to worry about math, because I think that's a real conversation in school. And I know that our listeners are like, yeah, you know what? I do have these conversations. So, I'd wonder what would you say to help those teachers out?
Christina Moore: Well, what I'm going to say now, is what I said my school is K-8, is what I told my middle school mathematics teachers. Well one is, going back, always what Francis Su said about teaching the human being, and bringing out their brilliance. So what I recommend is, that first week of school, is about getting to know your students, writing down what they like, what music they listen to, really hearing them. And especially on the first day of school, let them introduce themselves, don't butcher their name, let them speak their identity to the room, and you honor it. You ask them what pronouns they want to go by, that first week, that's building the rapport, and relationship for your class. And then throughout the year, you're going to incorporate things that you learned in your classroom. And it's not just putting someone's name in a word problem, it's truly seeing what they're into are.
Yeah, you just change Billy's name to Hawans or whatever. No, that's not it. So, it's definitely getting to know your students, and then jumping into the mathematics. In our digital space that we're in right now, I wrote an article for NCSM, the inspiration on, how do we deal with in the pandemic, what do we do? And the title of that was, Connection Over Content and Mindfulness Over Management. And that's especially in this digital space, where you don't have that connect. I don't know the feeling that I have for this upcoming year, because we may be starting the year, in a digital space, where there's no connections with teachers. And how do you establish that on a zoom, or whatever means that we're going to be using? So, really, taking the time, giving that check-in space, letting students talk, and their feelings, especially, your students who are of African-American descent.
We are carrying the oppression of 14 generations. And this movement now, is letting everyone see our pain. So our students of color, really need their teacher to see them. When I did my culmination speech for the fifth grade, that was basically the theme of my talk was, I don't want to live in a colorblind world, because I wouldn't see you. I wouldn't see your brilliance, I wouldn't see your beauty. So, definitely giving us space for our students. And you start building those relationships. Because from that, that sets everything else. I remember very vividly, I was always asking my students questions, and they would then change their answer, until they realize, oh, that's just what we do, we get questioned. And she's doing this because she wants to push me, not because she wants to trap me, or I got you. So that's all in that culture that you're creating in your class, that they know, I'm not going to let you fail, I'm a dig in, roll up my sleeves, do whatever it is that I need to help you as a human being, and then as a mathematician.
Kyle Pearce: That's so important. I love that connection over content, mindfulness over management, what a great way to put it. Jon and I have been doing these pop-up webinars recently, with trying to give some strategies on remote learning. And one of the big messages for us is again, trying to keep that community, because that happened sort of mid school year, or near the end, I guess, of our school year, we were lucky enough to already have had the opportunity to build that culture, but when we went online, it was almost like, maybe we forgot that. Now that we're in this new environment, we almost have to go back to the beginning, and really work hard on that, and realize that, you know what? It's not back to keep going where we left off, it's, let's try to make sure that that culture that we hone in, and we cultivate it, and we keep that culture going.
And then next year, like you're saying, it's going to be even more difficult, if we are in this sort of blended, or even fully online environment. So that will be crucial, especially. Every year it's crucial to build community in our classrooms in a face to face environment, but even more so now. And I love how this all ties back to, coming back to knowing our learners, and knowing who they are. Now, as you know, Jon and I, we are both white guys here, we have no idea, what different marginalized groups have gone through. And I'm wondering, and I know this just popped into my mind here, but if there's other white math educators out there who are, I'll tell you right now for many years, I would avoid those types of conversations.
And Jon and I have really pushed ourselves recently to say, you know what? We've got to figure this thing out. And we're still well into the beginning of this journey. But do you have any tips for guys like Jon and I? Who are there going, okay, how do we approach this? In our minds, we feel that we are not racist people, but we want to be anti-racist. We want to help, and we don't want to just sit back and be quiet. Is there anything we can do to like... Do you have any culturally relevant, get to know you activities? How can someone like us do this without potentially setting ourselves up really poorly where we end up offending? Or maybe we're just too scared to even navigate those waters. I know this is a really tough question, but I thought we would throw it out there, and see if you had any ideas that would help out folks like ourselves.
Christina Moore: Well, the first thing is, the acknowledgement that these things have been occurring, that's the first thing. I've lived my whole life, listening to what I call white explaining, like we say mansplaining, away the issues. Every male in my life, has been stopped by the police for something that they had to quickly decide what it was, everyone, every single one. So, these issues have plagued us from the moment the first African set foot on this continent. But I would say as an educator, just like we were saying earlier with Francis Su's quote, that mathematics is not just the algorithms and whatever, it's the whole person. So, you need to see me, the whole of me in mathematics class. I shouldn't have to check who I am at the door, to learn mathematics. So that's one of the things of changing that, and welcoming in, all of who your students are, in your mathematics class.
That's the value of learning about them in the beginning, to see them, and then how you can incorporate who they are into your classes, and incorporating people of color. The world is not just Europe, but that's the focus in our history class. So, it's showing all of who you are. And I would say that, we need you white guys, we need you to be our allies, because I should not, as a black woman, be the one that always call out racism. I should not be the one to say, wait, I'm not going to do that, or this policy is unacceptable, why are you putting this child in this class? I should not be the one, I need you to call it out. And how you do that, is to educate yourself. There are so many amazing books to help those who do not understand, can educate themselves.
In education wise, I would definitely say, Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain by Zaretta Hammond, my favorite book, that I have three of them, and I keep them in different places in my house, only because I love it's impact of identity and K-8 mathematics. And then of course, the work of Rochelle Gutierrez, she's the lead editor, about Rehumanizing Mathematics for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx Students, but that's specific to mathematics. But for just in general, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. But I would say, this is something that I'm struggling with for myself, as well as my children. Every year with educators, sometimes educators are not the best parent teachers. So every year before school starts, I send an email to each of the teachers, that my children are in high school. Actually this year, to the history teacher, I sent an email and said, are you going to be incorporating the 16, 19 project? I have a list of resources. I put a Google drive link. In English class, what books are you reading? I'm always asking those questions, because I want my child's identity to be valued in the classroom.
It hasn't always happened that way, but I'm not going to keep asking those questions. So, I think being open to hearing your students, hearing their stories, making sure all of who they are, are welcomed in the classroom, and educating yourself. I would say those would be the things definitely, that would help you become an anti-racist.
Jon Orr: Those are great suggestions, and we'll definitely include all of the links that you suggested to the books. And any of the other references that you made, we'll be putting those in the show notes for sure. And I think those messages are huge for us. And I think you're right in the sense that, you shouldn't be the one that is always reaching out to your son's, or your daughter's teachers, and asking about these things, it's us too. We have to be doing it, and that's how I think change is going to roll over. And I think you've really articulated well for all the listeners about how to see individuality, and identity in classrooms. I think there are so many teachers who just washed their classroom to have a look of, if I don't mention anyone's unique identity, then I'm not offending anyone. I think that is not the way to go, we need to, like you've said, we need to make everyone see themselves in those math classrooms.
So those teachers who are wondering, why are we doing this in math class? Yes, we are doing this in math class, because those students definitely need to see themselves in those math classes, and you have to celebrate those uniqueness, and make them feel like that's their home, that's their place that they can learn, because we know that you have to feel comfortable in an environment for your brain to work, otherwise it won't. So, it sounds like you've got some really... We always ask our guests a big main message, that you want our listeners to walk away with. But I think you've just articulated a good three or four there, but did you want to leave any other main message before we say goodbye?
Christina Moore: Well, the tag on my website, if I can say it correctly, is that mathematics and mindfulness can change the trajectory of a child's life. And I 100% believe that. Because if we empower them as a human being, and affirm who they are, speak into their lives, that you can do it, it's going to get increasingly hard, but you can do it. That will change what major they major in college with. That will completely change the trajectory of their lives, because we want the beauty and brilliance of all types of minds. I am the of belief that our society has been robbed all the brilliance of black minds, because they have not gone into mathematics. So, if we, truly, empower all of our students using these tools, we can change our world, truly.
Kyle Pearce: That is awesome. And I really appreciate you tackling my question, my off the cuff question, we are going to include the links to those books that you've recommended, which I think is great. We'll be adding it to our reading lists as well, and we really like that takeaway. And I think you're absolutely right, regardless of background, math is something it can truly change the trajectory, and that is so important in mindfulness as well. So, thank you so much for spending time with us. Where can people find out more about you? You mentioned there is a tagline of your website, what's your website? And how can they get connected with you?
Christina Moore: It's Talk Number 2 Me, that's my trademark. So it's talknumber2me.com, and it's 2, the number two, and that's my website. I speak at different conferences for professional development, different things. Right now I'm working with Amplify on some things. So I'm just very excited about these opportunities, and I'm working on my doctorate. I'm not busy at all. So, I'm always looking forward for opportunities to partner with my fellow mathematicians, to build the identity of our students.
Kyle Pearce: That's fantastic. We'll definitely get that website in there. We'll also, we ask you as if we don't know, but we have your social profiles. So we will add that to the show notes as well. And hopefully, if we, and the Math Moment Maker community are lucky, you'll be back with us at the next virtual summit. So thanks so much, Christina, for hanging out with us today. It really, is truly an honor to be able to speak with you, and to share your voice with our audience. And we'll be in touch soon, I'm sure.
Christina Moore: Well, thank you for having me. Thank you.
Kyle Pearce: Well there, Jon, it was awesome to welcome Christina onto the show. I know it is a long time coming, because Christina actually joined us on our first Make Math Moments Virtual Summit, back in 2019. And it has taken us a while to find a date to sit down, and chat with Christina, but I'm so happy we got to bring her onto the show. You can tell from the excitement in her voice that she really loves this work around mathematics, and again, around access and equity for all students. We love that, and again, thank you so much to Christina for joining us on this episode of the podcast.
Jon Orr: Yeah, it was a pleasure to chat with her. And actually, she's just a wonderful person. I hosted the session over on the virtual summit in November of 2020, and she just radiates, like you said Kyle, enthusiasm and happiness about what she's doing, and for students across the world. So, awesome that we got a chance to talk to her. So, as we wrap up this episode, in order to ensure you don't miss out on new episodes as they come out each week, be sure to subscribe over on Apple podcasts, or your favorite podcast platform.
Kyle Pearce: Yes, and if you're liking what you're hearing, please share the podcast with a colleague, and help us reach a wider audience by leaving us that rating and review on Apple podcasts, on your favorite podcast platform, tweeting us @makemathmoments on Twitter, or Instagram, and on Facebook, and be sure to hit that subscribe and notification bell on Facebook and YouTube.
Jon Orr: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Show notes and links to resources from this episode, as well as full transcripts, can be found over at makemathmoments.com/episode116. Again, that's makemathmoments.com/episode116.
Kyle Pearce: All right. My Math Moment Maker friends until next time, I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us, and happy high five for you too.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and we'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
DOWNLOAD THE MAKE MATH MOMENTS FROM A DISTANCE CHEAT SHEETS
Download the Cheat Sheets in PDF form so you can effectively run problem based lessons from a distance!
UP YOUR DISTANCE LEARNING GAME IN THE ACADEMY
There is a LOT to know, understand, and do to Make Math Moments From a Distance.
That’s why so many Math Moment Makers like YOU have joined the Academy for a month ON US!
You heard right: 30 days on us and you can cancel anytime. Dive into our distance learning course now…
Thanks For Listening
- Apply for a Math Mentoring Moment
- Leave a note in the comment section below.
- Share this show on Twitter, or Facebook.
To help out the show:
ONLINE WORKSHOP REGISTRATION
Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.
In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.