Episode #119: Pre-Service Parallels: An Interview with Erica Heinzman
Erica Heinzman joins us to discuss important aspects of pre service programs for math educators. She highlights the importance of humanizing mathematics and how those big ideas help define how a teacher structures their classroom.
Stick around while Erica helps you see the parallels of teaching pre service teachers and teaching our own students.
- How we can transform secondary mathematics classrooms to be a place of human endeavour and life-affirming;
- How teaching pre-service teachers is parallel to teaching students in math class;
- Why building and joining a community will change your career as an educator.
Erica Heinzman: It's also a way for me to relate to them, because I am sharing the same challenges that they are, it's just looks different. So one of them is productive struggle. Productive struggle is valuable in the math classroom, but that's hard because you do want to jump in and save the day. Recognizing that it's important for them to make the meaning, I can tell you that, but you have to make the meaning and the same thing when I go out. So I teach crosstalk
Jon Orr: Erica Heinzman joins us to discuss important aspects of pre-service programs for math educators. She highlights the importance of humanizing mathematics and how those big ideas help define how a teacher structures their classrooms.
Kyle Pearce: Stick around while Erica helps us see the parallels of teaching pre-service teachers and teaching our own students through K through 12. Let's do it. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast, I'm Kyle Pearce-
Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr.
Kyle Pearce: We're from makemathmoments.com. We are two math teachers who, together with you, the community of math moment makers worldwide, who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark curiosity-
Jon Orr: View sense-making-
Kyle Pearce: ...and ignite your teacher moves. John, are you ready to have a great conversation with our dear friend from the West coast, Erica?
Jon Orr: Yes, of course, Kyle, we are honored to bring Erica on, to chat with us about pre-service education. But before we do, we do want to give a couple of shout outs to some of the five star reviews that are happening over on Apple podcasts. It just kind of melts our hearts when we read these reviews and we want to read you one awesome one right now.
Kyle Pearce: Yes. This one is from El Rocha on Apple podcasts. It 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 started teaching. Thank you for your resources, interviews, and motivation to help our students."
Jon Orr: Isn't that fantastic? Nothing energizes us more to keep on recording episodes of this podcast than seeing those ratings reviews come in on all the podcast platforms like Apple podcasts.
Kyle Pearce: So have you taken 10 seconds to hit pause, scroll down in your podcasting app and tap five stars? Or keep in mind, we want you to be honest about that rating and review. So go ahead, leave us the honest rating and review that you think will give us the feedback that we need in order to keep ongoing and improving.
Jon Orr: That would just mean the world to us. All right, let's get on with our chat with Erica. Hey there, Erica, welcome to the Making Math That Matter podcast. Kyle and I are so excited to have you on the show today. How are you doing? I guess we're recording this in the summer, but I guess that pinpoints exactly when we're recording it, depending on when we're listening. But Erica, how are you doing?
Erica Heinzman: I am doing okay. I mean, obviously it's really an extraordinary time right now. And even though it's summer, I teach in the summer and so I am just starting a brand new course and I really began my summer break in early August. So I got a little ways to go.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So a break is still coming for you, which is awesome. Sometimes when you get into different roles outside of the classroom, sometimes those summer breaks sort of get shorter and shorter. You get sucked into doing this and that, and I feel that in my role as well, but it's awesome. Keeps us connected with the work. So tell us a little bit about yourself, Erica. We know you, we've had the opportunity to meet you briefly when we were, was it in San Diego? I think. When we were at NCTM a couple of years back. So tell us a little bit about yourself. What's your role in education and how did you come to that role? What got you into this business called math education?
Erica Heinzman: Before I even start though, I have to tell you, it's just such an honor to be on your show because I've listened to probably almost nearly every episode. crosstalk ans so it's strange crosstalk
Kyle Pearce: Jon it's the first time, we pay off all the guests, but none of them say that. And now finally, one of the people we paid off is saying it. It's fantastic. I'm just getting there Erica, and that's awesome. We appreciate it.
Erica Heinzman: I mean, because I've heard all people that have definitely had tremendous influence on me. And I even now have gotten my students excited about listening to the podcast.
Kyle Pearce: Oh, well, we certainly appreciate it and we're super excited to have you on as well. It means a lot to us that someone, I find you to have an influence in the online Twitter's blogosphere for math, and it's great to know that folks are appreciating it and sharing it. We really appreciate that. So yeah. Tell us a little bit more about you and how did you get into this role in math education? I
Erica Heinzman: t's a very Securitas pathway. I ironically graduated college and I said that there's two things I never want to do. I never want a sales job and I never want to teach.
Jon Orr: That's interesting.
Erica Heinzman: Sitting there listening to the commencement speaker thinking, okay, those are definitely off the limits. I knew that I wanted a career in public service and so I bounced around to a lot of different jobs. I was at a museum, I worked for nonprofits. Interestingly enough, I was also a contact tracer. I mean, obviously before the pandemic and now it's in getting all this notoriety as a career choice. Then I was at that time working in public health, I went on vacation to Hawaii and I'm a late bloomer for a lot of things. So I never learned to swim until we were going to go on vacation in Hawaii and I was like, I should learn to swim. I'm going to miss some of the experience of being Hawaii. So I learned to swim, so I can snorkel. We went to Hawaii and the first beach we went to snorkel was very rough. I was like, Oh, I am not going to be able to do this.
Kyle Pearce: Sounds like a first year of teaching.
Erica Heinzman: Yeah, it was. So we've found this really calm piece of beach. It was in Maui and it's called 16 mile. There was a little marker by the beach, but it was really placid, which is what I needed. So I went snorkeling, I got out of the water because I was exhausted and I just sat in the sun for a while and read. I had an epiphany that I was sitting on that beach and basically decided, you know what? I'm going to be a math teacher.
Jon Orr: That's a random thing. It's like, I'm not going to be a teacher and then it's like, I've been snorkeling and something about snorkeling in Hawaii just screams out math teacher.
Erica Heinzman: It was actually the book.
Kyle Pearce: I love it, yeah.
Erica Heinzman: It was actually the book.
Jon Orr: Oh, okay.
Kyle Pearce: Do you recall the book, I'm curious if we're short on math teachers, you just start randomly giving this book out to people.
Erica Heinzman: Yes I do. I have a copy on my shelf because it's obviously so influential in my life. It's called Blind Man's Bluff and it's about the cold war espionage. It's one of the things like I sat there on the beach and I still don't know to this day, how I connect all the dots in my mind and said, "Oh, high school math teacher," but it did. I don't know what you can say, but I am not that impulsive a person and so I came back though, and literally in a few weeks I quit my job and then enrolled in the UCSD teacher credential and master's program. Then I went on to become a high school math teacher for 14 years.
Kyle Pearce: That to me might be the most interesting story for the path. You know what I mean?
Erica Heinzman: Yes.
Kyle Pearce: I think it takes the cake for at least up until now in what? Over a hundred episodes. So fantastic. I love it.
Erica Heinzman: And then I went through the program, I loved it and I was in a classroom teacher for 14 years. Then when this position opened, I don't know for a while, again, it was like this epiphany. I remember where I was sitting when I read the notice and the position, because I wasn't looking at the time I was very happy in the classroom and I was like, you know what? I think I should do that. So I applied and here I am. So I'm entering my fifth year at the university teaching future secondary math teachers.
Jon Orr: So you're teaching people who have opted in to become math teachers specifically in the secondary classroom, is that correct?
Erica Heinzman: Yes. So it's a single, in California we call it single subject credential and so they are pursuing their single subject credential. So I teach in our credential and master's program. Some of the classes are where it's just math only and then some of the courses I teach it's the entire cohort. So it's a different single subject content areas basically. Then I do teach one undergrad class, where it's more juniors and sophomores who were thinking, Hey, let me dip my toe in the waters. It's like, do I want to be a secondary STEM teacher? Is the course. And so it gives them a chance to really think about, is it something I want to pursue? Then hopefully they continue on.
Jon Orr: Good. Well, we're going to dive into all that for sure in this episode. But I guess just for my curiosity, because I think we've talked with a few teachers in your position, but I wanted to just make sure that we're clear and the listener's clear here is that, are you teaching teachers the math content or are you teaching say the pedagogy part or both?
Erica Heinzman: I teach the pedagogy part, but obviously when doing the pedagogy, you are sometimes doing that, but I am definitely not teaching math courses or anything close to that. Yeah.
Jon Orr: Before we get rolling on all of that, we have to do one thing that I know that you know is coming and our regular listeners of the show, know that we always ask this question, but we need you to describe a memorable math moment from your past. So this can be a moment where you were a student or a teacher, but it's usually when we say math class, what pops in your head? Something that has stuck with you over the years, but what would be your memorable math moment?
Erica Heinzman: Okay. So the first one would definitely have to be when I was on the beach in Hawaii. So what was in that book was, they talked about how there was two incidents where they lost a nuclear weapon and then they had to go find it, a nuclear sub. What was interesting was, it exposed me to a side of math that I had never experienced before. I like to say that I was superficially in love with math previously. I love the procedure, I could memorize those logarithms like nobody else, but it exposed me to different view of math. So in the book they talked about, it was phased theorem and operational search theory and basically you combine the two and I to this day still don't know how the mechanics of it and how it works or the PhD level mathematics, but it was so fascinating that basically it played on people's intuition.
That was a new thought for me. The fact that they described how they were searching for these missing, I believe more in cases like a nuclear sub that was missing on the ocean floor and it also took weeks to solve, but they were able to locate it. That was just a different experience than I'd ever had in math. Because for me, previously math, had always been about getting the answer and you have to do it quickly and there's some formula and you just do the formula. No sense that there could be any humanity in that experience or that there was this room for intuition or nuance or that you could argue different points. So that really influenced my decision to go into math because like, wow, that's really fascinating.
Now, unfortunately for many years, my classroom did not even come close to what I, in that moment, found so appealing about mathematics. That took quite a journey. And that gets me to my second math moment. Common core was a very dramatic shift, at least for me and some of my colleagues. So when around the time of common core started coming out, a lot of us talk about who were in the classroom pre and post common core, what was that moment you knew that you had to let go of everything? I realized, looking back, it's a journey and there's multiple different experiences you had that added up to that moment where you're like, Oh, I have to redo everything.
Then there's also that grief because there's that recognition that what you had been doing was ineffective, probably harmful and it was just really misrepresenting mathematics. But then there's that moment of liberation because you're like, I can create, right? I can be this new person and really embrace mathematics in this new way. So it's funny because for a few years, I was a Noyce master teacher fellow. So sometimes when we would have our gatherings, we would talk about, what was that moment where you knew, that it all switched? So for me, it was one-time watching Jo Bowler. It was a life-changing experience.
Kyle Pearce: Rethinking everything you thought you knew.
Erica Heinzman: Yeah. Yeah. So there is that moment where I recognize that, okay, I need to change, but then it's like, well, how do I create that new reality? What is that actually going to look like and sound like and feel like? I just remember watching Jo Bowler and I was like, Oh, I can do this. I can see how this is going to happen. It's going to take a long time and it's a journey, but it started making sense to me. I saw a path forward.
Kyle Pearce: Well, your story is interesting because you kind of taken us on a journey and we love that. We feel like math class is a journey and we want to take our students on that journey. A lot of what we believe of how you would begin getting students interested is this provocation, getting kids curious. You've got me really curious about your journey and how, first of all, you sort of came from one extreme to the other. You came from this of, that does not sound like something I want to do. For a lot of people, I think it's actually more commonly happens the other way. Right? People are like, I'm going to be a teacher and they feel like it's going to be amazing and then they get into it and then maybe they go, wow, this is not maybe what I expected. Right? It's not all roses and butterflies like I had in my mind.
So you've kind of come at it another way. This book that you had mentioned, we'll put it in the show notes that Blind Man's Bluff had you thinking differently, but then you articulated that the common core had you shifting. So I'm curious, can you tell us a little more about what was, I guess the part between the book and becoming that teacher and then common core. I'm taking a guess here, but I'm picturing, you may have maybe approach things the way Jon and I did earlier in our career where maybe procedures first mentality, what was that like? Then I guess, how have you shifted to your current beliefs?
I'm guessing if Jo Bowler had a big influence on you, just like she's had on us and on so many around the world, you've kind of, it sounds like, taken a little bit of a journey to looking at mathematics from a new light. So can you paint us a little bit of a picture of that time before the shift for you?
Erica Heinzman: I was a very traditional math teacher unfortunately. What was interesting during that time period, I went ahead and earned my full inaudible credential. I think looking back on it, part of that was because I really craved this sense-making that wasn't going on in my math classroom. So I got to balance doing wonderful Socratic seminars with students, one period and then the next period, it'd be unfortunately me up at the board running through the quadratic formula. So I did not know how to merge those two. That's where the gap was. It was like, how do I take what I really love about language arts, this sense-making that's going on and also just a way of understanding and contextualizing our world and put that into the math classroom?
Jon Orr: I'm curious too about what Kyle is asking about this kind of transition. I'm wondering if you can think to a moment or an activity or a lesson that you were like, you know what? I've had this English experience where we've had a lot of thinking and it's not a lot of just regurgitation, but when we go to math class, it was, and then I'm wondering, what was that first taste that made you go, Oh, I can do this in math class and this is how it looks? You've mentioned learning from Jo Bowler, but I'm wondering what that looked like in the classroom for you to give that a shot? Because we've got a lot of listeners on the show who are like that. They're like, I love all these ideas, but I just don't know exactly how to get started or what that looks like. But I'm wondering if you, and I know this is early Erica and we've talked many times, as you said, you've listened to us, we've talked many times about kind of baring our past on like what our lessons look like early in our careers. But I'm wondering what that one moment or lesson or activity looked like for you that made you go, okay, we can make that shift.
Erica Heinzman: It was when I started teaching statistics. I had to get out of the algebra, geometry realm. The chance to venture into this non-traditional branching out generally in K-12. So we had a teacher that left and I don't know, we were shifting around master schedule and I was like, you know what? I'll fix those mistakes. And right away, I can say, even like chapter one, chapter two, it was like, Oh, I get it now. Because there's multitude of answers you can have and it's okay. It's all about the justification and the reasoning. Then you get so much choice and creativity. I can see that where I wasn't able to at that point still see that happening in algebra and geometry. I mean, that took much longer, but once I could see that in statistics, I was like, okay, there has to be a way to unlock that in geometry and algebra as well.
But even one of the first units is all about visual representations in statistics. It's like, yeah, you can make a inaudible. You can make a bar chart or you could do a table or, you have to decide for what I want to communicate, what's the best way to do that? Am I accurately portraying the data? I can come up with two different conclusions. I can look at that same bar chart and make two different decisions.
Kyle Pearce: Sounds like the practice standards are popping in our mind. Jon and I actually just got off of a mentoring moment call before we hopped on with you. We really dug in to how do we focus more on those practice standards? I think it's like, we're so content driven, we're so topic driven in the math curriculum and then you realize like those topics are only there to help us make provocations so that students can build on those mathematical practices and get better at problem solving and get better at working on representing their thinking and doing all of these things and creating convincing arguments.
To me, that's something that happened, at least that shift happened for me much later. It's great to hear that you've sort of made that shift. The journey you had mentioned as you knew that you could do this for other areas of mathematics. I think that's kind of what makes teaching math so fun. I didn't enjoy teaching math itself. I enjoyed teaching, but I didn't enjoy teaching math itself until I had that sort of epiphany that I could do it better. I didn't know how to do it better, and we're still on this journey to try to make a lot of different concepts that we teach in mathematics better. But it's like we knew there was a way, and it's almost like this drive, this mission to keep going.
I know for you that you're very passionate about transforming secondary math, not just to this more of a standards of practice approach, but making it a place of human endeavor. I've heard you say making it life affirming. So my wonder is, what parts of the classroom culture in your mind needs to be adjusted? I think we know a little bit about that. You've sort of articulated that, but I guess why is it so important to you and what sort of work are you doing in that area? What are you working on now to try to bring out that human endeavor, showing that math and mathematics in general can be life-affirming? It doesn't have to be so negative.
For so many kids and so many adults, mathematics was not a positive part of their life. So what's on your mind lately and what sort of work are you doing to try to help, not only yourself show this, but then also to help your pre-service teachers, which I think is what a great time to help people when they haven't even stepped into the classroom yet, right? Trying to get their mindset shifting right away, because it is going to take a while. I'm just curious to hear sort of your thoughts on that and sort of your work in that area.
Erica Heinzman: There's a number of different ways I can conceptualize this. One of them is I really challenged their notion of what is mathematics, because there's time periods of my life, where I would have said, Oh, it's the procedure, but you have to start thinking about crosstalk
Kyle Pearce: Or right answer, you know?
Erica Heinzman: Yeah. So one of the things I do is obviously share with them from catalyzing change, the definition that NCTM has for mathematics and that it starts positioning it as well, it is for professions, your professional civic self, but then it's also just a way of contextualizing your world and that can be in a variety of ways. That can be to highlight injustice in your world, but that can also be to appreciate art in your world. Then there's also to try to find that wonder joy and beauty in mathematics. So I really start pushing them to think about, well, how do I define that? Then how do I want my students to experience mathematics?
One of the things I do in my secondary methods class is we always start with now, and I prioritize that at the start of class and then obviously we're going to talk about pedagogy and do other things throughout our time together. But every class I teach-
Kyle Pearce: The teachers engaging in the math task is what I'm hearing.
Erica Heinzman: Yes. Then that gives them this lens for the rest of our period together or class session or whatever, that they can reflect on. And because I picked purposely rich tasks, they started seeing, okay, they can start reflecting back on those experiences and then thinking, okay, well, how do I recreate for my students? What did I appreciate about that? What was my emotional connection to that? So another way too to really put the human spark back in math, is something I've been working with. I have a presentation I did recently with Bree Mary Pickford and it was about re-imagining the doers of mathematics and really thinking about how do we integrate the human contribution in mathematics? Because in the language arts classroom, a lot of times you tie in the author with the text. If you're going to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, you're going to share some biographical information about Cormack McCarthy and then you're going to keep playing that in your mind as you read book. We don't do that in math. That just doesn't happen, right? It's like these things are just givens.
And the problem with that is then we aren't having conversations too, about which mathematics do we prioritize. We aren't challenging that math because we just think it's static and Rochelle Gutierrez really always talks about rehumanizing mathematics. The idea is, if we put the human aspect back in, then it can be a lot more meaningful for our students and it's a lot more authentic. One of the things I was presenting with Bree on was thinking about how to not have just the poster on the wall, the famous mathematicians, and then the next step is, you always have to make sure, well, is it representative, is it an inclusive image? But then, thinking about, well, how do the students need to connect that? How can they see themselves in those people? And so really highlighting the journey of those individuals.
So in doing the presentation, we decided to go all out and we got the t-shirt, the math girls t-shirt from Chrissy and so of course I'm looking up the people on the t-shirt. It was interesting because in trying to find the biographies, one of the names on the t-shirt is Julia or Julia. There's obviously the Julia Gary, University of Washington who's phenomenal, but then there's also Julia Robinson. It was just fascinating doing her background story and realizing that she actually grew up in San Diego and she went to one of the high schools here locally, and the middle school here locally. You're like, wow, I bet nobody who attended this school has any idea that a famous mathematician attended their school.
That's what I'm really trying to think about is, how to do it in a way that's authentic and doesn't just like, we only associate the accomplishment with the person. But also understanding the struggled to get to that accomplishment.
Jon Orr: I really love that you start your course with these ideas, because I think like we've experienced, like you've articulated that we often overlook the humanizing of mathematics. The definition of mathematics and how that should influence how we teach our students, I think it's so important that you're teaching or you're helping your future teachers understand that. It sounds like I had a somewhat of a similar experience in my pre-service education many years ago. I had a teacher who, because I had taken a class on the philosophy of mathematics, in my pre-service teaching. He started with that big question, as we talked about the definition of mathematics and he actually asked us to define mathematics. Then we all talked about differences of definitions.
Then he asked another prompt that has always stuck with me and that I actually use in my class with my students, is the, what is math like? Or math is like, and then you finish that statement. I found that that prompt right at the beginning of any sort of course for students or teachers is great because it kind of brings out a nice discussion of what you think math is like, and we get a couple chuckles out of it. You can also hear preconceived notions or current conceptions about mathematics that students have. I think you can see where they're coming from on their background, just in how they describe mathematics and what they think it's like.
Was it like a swamp or is it like riding a bike? They get to make that comparison and I think that's great. To kind of keep going with your humanizing mathematics, I think it's to go back to that idea of like, we skipped that because I think even though I went through those similar types of prompts in my pre-service, I think it just didn't stick with me in the sense of what really mathematics was and how that translated to showing my students. I really love that you guys, as a group, are bringing out, do we use it, or is it a way to contextualize our world, a means to showcase or highlight social injustice? I love this idea of thinking of math as a way to appreciate art. It's like a vehicle that we can use to understand our world and not just in physics. I think we get bogged down to that.
It's like, Okay, we can understand how our world works, but actually we can understand so many different parts of our world by understanding what mathematics is and how we can use it. I think you're doing a great job there. We just spoke with Francis Su on humanizing mathematics in his book, and he's doing a great part. Samuel inaudible has got a book on math recess and other books about just bringing beauty and things that we overlook into our math classes. I really appreciate you mentioning that in doing that with your students. So just great work so far with what you're doing. What else are you guys doing early in say that course to help teachers kind of navigate what their own math classes are going to look like?
Erica Heinzman: One of the things too, that I emphasize is that the course, it's really reframing it as this is the start of your journey. Too often in education, sometimes people feel they're always grasping for that easy answer. Okay, how do I teach students who are multilingual? It's like, that is a career long questions. And starting to recognize that what is your math classroom look like? That is a career long question. So what is important?
Jon Orr: Yeah, and hopefully it doesn't look the same at the beginning as it does at the end, right?
Erica Heinzman: No, no. Yeah. I love like when Robert inaudible always says, if you think back to what you were doing five years ago, you should be in Paris. Because it means you're growing, right? It means that you're changing and you're learning and you're putting that learning into practice. One of the things I keep telling them is you're getting a strong foundation and then you're going to continue to grow. That's also having reasonable expectations for yourself and being kind. You aren't expected to do for example, NCTM's principles to actions, all eight of those immediately. I wouldn't even focus crosstalk... Yeah. And I wouldn't even focus on inaudible. Is like, what is going to help you get started for where you are?
And so, I mean, it's stuff like I exposed them to the big idea and it's like, okay, let's dilute it down to where are we going to start and know that we have the book and maybe in 10 months, or maybe in two years you can go back and think about, okay, well, what are the other eight do I want to start focusing on?
Kyle Pearce: What you're sharing here, Erica, I couldn't agree more. In our district, we've been doing a book talk around principles to actions. I mean, it was actually last school year where we introduced it and as we were working on our school improvement plans, working with administrators and their math teams and thinking about what is it that you want to focus on as a school? And that's exactly what our focus has been for them or our suggestion has been, is picking one. You can look at these eight effective teaching practices in Principles to Actions, and you can look at them and say like, I want to do all of these, but that could be extremely overwhelming. I can only imagine for a pre-service teacher who may be coming fresh out of their own experience and maybe believe math to be one thing, as you had mentioned earlier. I think starting small is so important.
It kind of connects to our next question, because you mentioned before that there's parallels between teaching mathematics and teaching pre-service teachers. I'm sort of seeing some of these parallels, even just between how you're approaching working with your pre-service teachers and having them sort of chunk and grow and how we might deliver a math curriculum with students as well. So what sorts of parallels are you seeing and how do you use that parallel to help your students prepare for their future, hopefully as really engaged, really excited math educators?
Erica Heinzman: Well, there's a few that I see that immediately jumped to mind. It's also a way for me to relate to them because I am sharing the same challenges that they are, it's just looks different. So one of them is productive struggle. Productive, struggle is valuable in the math classroom, but that's hard because you do want to jump in and save the day. And recognizing that it's important for them to make the meaning. I can tell you that, but you have to make the meaning. The same thing when I go out.
So I teach in the program, but then I also supervise them in their student teaching and intern teaching. So when I go out and watch them, yeah, there's tons of times I can jump in or I will watch the mentor teacher or the cooperating teacher want to just jump in. They'll take the little disruption that's happening in the corner. But the problem with that is then, they aren't learning to do that. It is painful to watch people learning sometimes and so learning to know like, you know what? I'm just going to sit in the back and be a quiet little mouse and then we're going to talk about this and you're going to learn so much by experiencing everything that's just unfolding right now.
Then it is gratifying then later to see that growth because they made the meaning. It wasn't Erica telling them, that it was they like, Oh, I need to change.
Kyle Pearce: Actual learning happened.
Erica Heinzman: Yeah.
Kyle Pearce: It's at a regurgitating, or just restating what I've heard, I actually am showing some growth. I'm showing some understanding.
Erica Heinzman: But it's one of those things you have to negotiate too with sometimes principals. They're like, well, they want it to look perfect. And it's like, no, it looks messy, but we'll get there. We're working on it. Or the cooperating teacher who can run a really well managed classroom and learning how to let go, and yeah, they're talking. They're being disrupted today. But that is practice that student needs or yes, it took 15 minutes inaudible materials but now we can have a conversation about what could we do to make that faster. A lot of times what's interesting just like with your students is, they have a lot of the great answers, but it's giving them the time and the space to start coming to that.
Then another definite parallel with math is like you were mentioning earlier, there is so much pressure to check all the boxes on the content. I tell them upfront, there's too much content. Whatever pacing guide they give you, there's no way if you're being honest, that you are going to do that to a level that you need the deep understanding to occur.
Kyle Pearce: It is math is more than what maybe we thought it was before we got into this career, right? If it's more than just answers then yeah, it's going to be a toughie.
Erica Heinzman: Yeah. And so for them, I tell them that's where, like you were mentioning, you never sacrifice the practice for this. You always stay through the practice standards. So what they, you may not get a lot of signs, that's okay. If those students are internalizing those practice standards, I know they're going to be okay in the world. So for me, the coverage part is there is a rich and vibrant mathematics ed community. I will say some of the iterations when I've done secondary math methods, it was not as coherent as it could have been and I put way too much into it. So one of the things that I really intentional last few years about doing when I teach the class is I do less and go deeper. I keep telling them, going back to the idea it's a journey, it's a journey, is you're going to learn a lot more.
Maybe I run out of time and I don't show you every phenomenal resource out there, but that's okay. You can discover those. That's why you're part of this larger community. And you're going to come across this. It's good to have just a few that you feel really comfortable with. You can see how they use Desmos well and you can see how to use some of these other resources well, and I don't have to feel like I have to show you everything. Because you're going to naturally and organically it's going to happen over the course of your career. You're going to find other wonderful resources that inaudible teaching.
I think that helps too, because like you've had many guests on, who there is so many resources, but then it's like, you feel obligated to use all of them. Then it just becomes and see resources instead of really focusing on the learning ball. And so they have to let you on to do and then you'll figure it out.
Jon Orr: I think you've mentioned so many great parallels and I just wanted to kind of highlight a couple of things you said here for just to kind of like go back over, so all the listeners can actually look at it like, yeah, yeah, she said so many great things.
Erica Heinzman: I have a few more if you want. At the top of my head, sorry.
Jon Orr: I'm sure you do. I'm sure you do. Just to mention a couple of that, just highlight those, but I really liked how you highlighted the parallels. I can imagine myself as that student teacher, I remember thinking I really wanted my student or my associate teacher to jump in and help me in these complex, terrible classroom management.
Kyle Pearce: Getting out the back of the room kind of crosstalk Were you going to help me out?
Jon Orr: Yeah, exactly. I remember having them, are you going to help me out? This eye contact, right? It's like, Oh, and then they're just staring back at you going like you're in it. I remember thinking like, I'm glad they didn't, but that whole jumping in, helping too much and understanding that, because I think you've hit the nail on the head, Erica, they're saying like, if you help too much in math class as a teacher with your students, but also as an associate teacher with someone who's learning how to teach, they don't feel that selfish, that ownership in the learning and ownership in how they're doing.
You can say later, that jerk didn't help me in that situation, but you're going to appreciate in the long run. Just like the kid that's saying like... because when you don't help a kid in that math class, they're saying like, Mr. Orr is not even teaching me, what is going on? But it's later that they realize that they've understood, that they didn't do that on purpose. I was a remembered, it's like, you think you're a bad parent because you didn't help your son or daughter climb up the ladder at the playground when they're a toddler. The other parents are like, why is that parent not helping out? It's because I'm making a conscious choice to allow my kids to kind of experience their own success. I think you're doing a great job in that with teachers. I think that totally shows, and I think it's going to help those teachers even more.
I know that you said you've got a couple more parallels to highlight here, but you also mentioned this great idea about future growth. Part of teaching and especially teaching mathematics is like figuring out where resources are that you can grab and use because there's so many out there and we don't always have to rely on a textbook. We don't always have to rely on the pacing guy. We don't always have to rely on the teacher down a couple of classrooms down who is making great lessons. There are many resources that we can put into use. I think that parallels nicely too, with this idea of teaching kids. We're in this lifelong learning journey and we not only want to teach students about the mathematics and how we can use that to understand our world, but also what does it look like after you're done this class? And what does it look like going forward?
So you want to think of these big ideas for our own students. I'm wondering specifically, where do you point new teachers to, in order to find resources in developing long after the pre-service year's done? Where can they find more about how to keep going with learning so that they can keep that lifelong and learning going, well, what do you recommend?
Erica Heinzman: I am very big from the first day about the mathematical community. And believe that community can be very nurturing, sustaining, and also can really help us challenge our thinking and continue to grow. I define community as beyond their four walls and beyond the walls of the school. Because for example, some schools may have a very traditional department and that's where my student gets hired. I want them to know that there's a whole nother world out there and to keep in contact with that other world. So I am very proactive about promoting any professional learning.
Then also, I really promote obviously the math Twitter blogosphere. But I'm always, especially right now during the pandemic, there is phenomenal, free professional learning. So one of the assignments I have for the secondary math course right now is to pick out a few webinars from either NCTM or Todos or Desmos, and really start then thinking about, I belong to these communities. I'm a part of these communities and I'm hoping that they'll feel a connection and that will continue throughout their career.
Kyle Pearce: That's definitely amazing advice for pre-service teachers. My experience personally, and I can't speak for both of you, John and Erica, but I remember thinking like I was in my pre-service year was sort of a hoop to jump through. It's sort of how I felt about math class as a student was, this is just what you do, but I didn't come out of my pre-service year with that thirst to continue growing or learning. I just thought, I'm now going to go in and I'm going to do this and that's it. I think that's fantastic that you're putting that on the radar. It doesn't mean that every student that goes into that pre-service program is going to maybe see that right away, but at least they're being exposed to it. So hopefully if they do dive in, they sort of grab it and they sort of see, and they feel that same feeling you get, when you look at a student who just works through a productive struggle and they succeed, it's like growth has happened. I can imagine that being that way for these pre-service teachers.
So this has been a fantastic conversation and we're approaching the hour and we want to be respectful of your time and also all of the time of the math moment maker community. So before we let you go, Erica, where can the math moment maker community find out more about you, Erica Heinzman?
Erica Heinzman: I am on Twitter. So E Heinzman one, and then I am working on my dissertation. So at some point, I hope to have some publications as well, but that's in process.
Jon Orr: Right. Awesome stuff, Erica, we definitely want to thank you for being here with us on this hour. We appreciate all of the big nuggets that you've shared for all of our teachers. So before we kind of sign off here, what is one that last big idea you'd love to leave our listeners?
Erica Heinzman: I'm going to circle back to the idea of community, because I think when I look back on my own career in the classroom, when I was a high school teacher was too often, I wasn't a part of that community. I think it really stagnated me growing professionally and becoming a better math teacher. One of the things I've really appreciated becoming a Noyce master teacher fellow, and then continuing on in my new job is just how wonderful the community is and how much I have grown by becoming a really active participant in it.
So it's something that I regret. I wasn't going to conferences, I wasn't on Twitter as early as other people and that I really think community is so important, because it is a human endeavor and we learn from each other and we learn with each other. Making sure that we're creating that space and those opportunities to think about big, deep ideas and how do we transform lives.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, that's a great takeaway. It's a great takeaway for me. I'm loving the parallels piece. I know Jon, you had mentioned it before, but again, more and more I realize with every passing day, how much more similar math learning and learning in mathematics, the way I'm now seeing it is to learning in general, learning in other subject areas and just regular growth in life. And trying to elicit that as early and as often as possible with our new pre-service teachers, I think is so important.
So I want to thank you for taking your role and maximizing the effect you can have on the future math educators of the world. We want to thank you for taking some time to hang out us today. We really appreciate it. I know that the math moment maker community is appreciative of your time and your perspective.
Erica Heinzman: I thank you too, because you're doing a wonderful service by having this podcast and it's connecting teachers far beyond their school community and I think that's wonderful as well. Thank you for doing this. You are unrelenting. I always think, oh, are they going to take like the Monday-
Kyle Pearce: Off?
Erica Heinzman: Yeah. Or are they going to take summer off? I remember last summer, I was wondering if they're going to take summer off. And t's like, every Monday there is an episode. inaudible it's like the post office, no matter what's happening-
Jon Orr: crosstalk
Erica Heinzman: There is always a new episode. So I know that takes a lot of time and energy and devotion. So I appreciate that.
Kyle Pearce: Well, we appreciate it. We love doing it. We learn a ton and we are just so happy. Just like it sounds like you, with your pre-service teachers were just so happy to be able to share our learning as we learn and to learn with as many from around the world as we can. So thanks again. We appreciate the kudos there and again, we hope you have an awesome day and we look forward to seeing you again soon, hopefully at a live conference in the not so distant future.
Erica Heinzman: Thank you.
Jon Orr: Well, friends, as I'm sure you would agree, it was great to have an awesome conversation with Erica on the show here. We are always, always looking to have great mathematics conversations with our colleagues from around the world. We just want to make sure that you don't miss out on any new episodes that they release every Monday morning. In order to get notified, make sure you hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcasting platform like Apple podcasts. Also, 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 a review on Apple podcast or Hey, tweet us at make math moments on Twitter. Hit us up on Instagram and on Facebook.
Kyle Pearce: As always, show notes and links to resources, including full transcripts from this episode can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode 119. Again, you can head over to make mathmoments.com/episode one, one, nine and while you're there, go ahead and click on over to our curiosity task tool that will search a bunch of different websites so that you can make math moments with the concept coming up in your classroom right now. Well, my friends, that's it for us. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr.
Erica Heinzman: I'm Erica Heinzman.
Jon Orr: High fives for us, and...
Erica Heinzman: High fives for you.
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