Episode #99: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know – An Interview With Farshid Safi
Today we speak with Farshid Safi from the University of Central Florida. We reached out to Farshid after his presentation in NCTM 100 Days of Learning.
In Farshid’s work with educators he helps teachers see how context and connection must take priority above all else. He weaves the mathematical content we have to teach with student identity and their humanness.
Stick around while we learn how to have conversations about equity with your colleagues, why we need to be generalists instead of specialists and, how can we as educators impact our community?
- How to have conversations about equity with your colleagues.
- Why we need to be generalists instead of specialists.
- Why we need to have a 6 foot view of our teaching and also a 6000 foot view.
- How can we as educators impact our community?
Farshid Safi: We have so many students that they are so brilliant, but then their identity and their being and their mathematical brilliance doesn't find its way, not only out for themselves, but in ways that it can also inspire and contribute to the learning of others...
Jon Orr: Today we speak with Farshid Safi from the University of Central Florida. We reached out to Farshid after his presentation at NCTM's 100 days of learning caught our attention.
Kyle Pearce: In Farshid's work with educators, he helps teachers to see how context and connection takes priority above all else. We love that. He weaves the mathematical content we have to teach with student identity and their humaneness.
Jon Orr: Stick around while we learn how to have conversations about equity with your colleagues, why we need to be generalists instead of specialists and how we as educators impact our community.
Kyle Pearce: Hey, let's cue it up. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.
Jon Orr: And I'm John 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: Fuel sense making...
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. John, are you ready to dive into this awesome episode that's going to bring the humaneness of mathematics and content knowledge together? What do you say?
Jon Orr: Of course, Kyle, of course. We are honored to bring Farshid on and before we get into that conversation, we'd like to take a moment and talk about the 2020 Make Math Moments virtual summit, which is coming up on Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8, which right now, it is open for registration.
Kyle Pearce: Right, you're absolutely right, John. This is one of the favorite times of year for you and I because we get the honor of bringing some amazing math minds from the math education space straight to you in the comfort of your own home. You know what? We continue to find ways that we can do it free. Yes, that means free for you to attend live and to get some replays.
Jon Orr: I know it's ... You've probably felt like you've been doing a lot of PD from home, but if you want some more amazing math professional learning from the comfort of your couch, we encourage you to pause this episode right now and head to makemathmoments.com/summit to register for the 2020 Make Math Moments virtual summit.
Kyle Pearce: That's right. We're running our second annual free online math professional development summit for K through 12 educators. That's right, there's something for everyone at this event. The dates again are Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8, and actually John, Farshid from this episode is going to be one of our over 30 presenters.
Jon Orr: Coolest part yet. Some of the sessions will be happening live over Zoom while others are pre-recorded for you to enjoy at your convenience over the weekend, and up to a week afterwards, through replays.
Kyle Pearce: How exciting. This year, some of our speakers include past guests from this podcast, like Marian Small who we not only talked to on the podcast, but also we reference quite a bit. Her session is called Think The Math and then actually, the next part of the title is, Do The Math With a Line Through It. So I'm really excited to get her perspective on how it's not just about doing the math, it's about thinking and reasoning through the math.
Jon Orr: Yeah, and another recent guest we've had on the podcast is Dan Meyer, and he is sharing a session called Connected and Creative Math Classrooms In a Time Of Crisis. I know that a lot of us are looking for resources in this weird time. So we'll be checking out Dan's session.
Kyle Pearce: I'm excited to hear what his thoughts are on helping us as educators get over that remote learning hump, and how about Candice Wilson-McCain who hasn't been on the podcast yet, but I promise you, we're going to be bringing her on in the near future, who's speaking about problem-based learning. You folks at home know how much we love problem-based learning. Her session is called Nine Steps to PBL Success, The Impactful PBL Roadmap.
Jon Orr: I don't know who is actually more excited Kyle, the Math Moment Maker community or us. Go ahead everyone right now. Register for this year's summit at makemathmoments.com/summit.
Kyle Pearce: If you're listening to this episode, after this year's summit, well, the replays will be up until Friday, November 13. Then they're going to be put away in the Make Math Moments Academy for all of our members to gobble up at will, at any time.
Jon Orr: Hop into the summit at makemathmoments.com/summit. Catch those replays, or to find how you can get into the academy to watch them.
Kyle Pearce: All right, enough from us, my friends. Let's get on to this fantastic conversation with Farshid.
Jon Orr: Hey there, Farshid. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. Kyle and I are so excited to have you on the show today. How are you doing down in Florida?
Farshid Safi: I'm doing well. Thank you for asking, and thank you for having me.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff, awesome stuff. We are really excited to have you. I've been following you for quite some time on Twitter. I know that we've had a few interactions along the way, but I never had an opportunity to really go and see you present until recently during NCTM's 100 days of math. So I'm really excited to talk about a few things that intrigued me about your presentation. We'll get into that later, but before we do, tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your role in math education? Maybe tell us a little bit about your journey of what landed you here.
Farshid Safi: Sure. So I'm a university teacher educator. So I teach at the University of Central Florida. So I'm a mathematics educator, but I also work with our undergraduate students and our graduate students, our PhD students but I'm also very involved with our public schools, K through 12. So I make every effort to continue to learn and grow in K through 12, and even delving into college mathematics, because I just believe in supporting our students and our schools, our universities and our communities that way. I don't separate who I am as a person from what I do professionally. I intentionally blur those lines and I don't necessarily have a way of keeping a barrier in between those two.
Jon Orr: That's definitely something I think I feel like educators do. It's like educators are just educators and as human beings, it's hard for us all to, I think, separate the lines between those two things. Whereas I guess I can't really speak for other professions, because I've only been an educator, but I sometimes wonder about whether, when I go home from work from another job, work is work and home is home, and we don't blur those lines but educators, it's really hard to do that. I actually ... Like you, I wouldn't want to separate those two things.
Farshid Safi: To me, those boundaries are somewhat artificial and forced. So the more that we can intentionally make sure that we humanize all of our experiences, whether they're in a formal education setting, or whether they're at home, or whether it's just hanging out with friends and colleagues.
Jon Orr: I'm wondering a little bit about the background on how you got into teaching. I think a lot of listeners of the show are interested in hearing, as educators, they know how they got into teaching, but oftentimes interested in how other people have got into the education world. So would you be able to kind of give us a backstory there.
Farshid Safi: So I think, who we are as teachers is completely interwoven with who we are as people. So I want to say that my teaching journey is very much connected to my personal journey. So if you would advise me to give you a brief synopsis of my timeline, I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1971 and my father was finishing his medical school residency and everything. We're from Iran originally. So when I was a month old, he was finished. So we moved back to Iran.
So I grew up in Iran, my entire family was living there at the time. So from 1971 to 1985, I grew up surrounded by lots of love and family and went through school, elementary and also Middle School. It wasn't until the mid 80s, where because of the Iran-Iraq war, we had to immigrate because they were drafting younger and younger kids, literally kids, 17,16,15 year olds. My parents made the ultimate sacrifice of leaving everything, family fortune, professional aspirations, and everything they'd worked for, to provide safety for us as their children.
That's when we came here back to Florida but during the first few years here, during my high school years, I went through three different schools in two different states. So you got to explore a lot of things as an English language learner as a person of color and as an immigrant, trying to just find your way and yet always being fueled by love and support and the stress from a family standpoint and a cultural standpoint, of the importance of being able to just elevate people through caring, but also through your actions, personally and also professionally. So that part of my upbringing still is a huge part of who I am and it's what I try to bring with me to every group that I'm privileged to work with in that way.
Kyle Pearce: That's fantastic. I'm really happy that you've given us a very clear picture of who you are as a human. Often times, I think back to some of our episodes with Hema Khodai and even recently, Dan Meyer, who just was released recently, this week. Oftentimes, we as teachers, especially high school teachers, John and I, coming from the high school class, we tended to kind of put the math first and the human second. It sounds like you've kind of got that advantage, that flip, where you've come at it from a different approach, and that has to pay dividends in the classroom.
We'll dive deeper into that specific to your presentation. I see a really nice tie in, but I don't want to let this one off of the radar, because we ask every guest who comes on to the podcast to describe a memorable math moment from your past. You've shared a little bit about your own past, growing up and being born in Jacksonville, Florida and then spending time in your home country, your family's home country, and then having to essentially leave everything behind. I'm wondering, what about math? Where did math fit in, and maybe it is, or maybe it isn't related or connected back to a memorable math moment from your past, but I'm curious what might that look like or sound like for you?
Farshid Safi: I think favorite math or memorable math moments are made on a day to day basis. So if you were to ask me, it's almost like snapshots in your life. The snapshot of a memorable moment that I may have had early on in my career would have been the pure joy of being able to help people through understanding mathematics a little more comprehensively and through being able to connect in the sense making, and being able to just empower people through learning and teaching in that way. The more I've gone on my journey, both physically, professionally, and mathematically, has taken me from Florida to moving up to beautiful British Columbia, where I lived and met my wife up there, and experiencing the differences in how education, university education and how people are just beautiful wherever you go. How much of that do we bring in intentionally, into the ways that we engage our students and our fellow colleagues in the teaching and learning of mathematics.
So the places, the people and the opportunities be in Florida, be it in Vancouver, be it in New Jersey, where I taught for several years, and all the journeys by working with teachers and school districts around the country in Canada, around the US and Canada have helped me to have so many memorable math moments, but the common denominator for all of them is being able to support, being able to engage, being able to empower and elevate people, before we elevate them mathematically, elevating them as people.
Jon Orr: That's a great message for all of our listeners and I think what Kyle said is that we came from a place where we always talk math first, and people, not even ... I spent time just thinking about my math lessons. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't see my high school students as ... I guess I saw them as people, but I didn't see my class as a place where my job is to recognize differences in people and elevate that or recognize that. I always tried to plan lessons just to get the math out, and then just help kids understand it. I actually just treated people, everyone the same.
It was like, hey, I planned lessons like kids were the same and I did that for a number of years. It's only these last few years where I've tried to change and recognize that, you know what, we are human teachers first and say math is in there too, but we can use math to help bring out the human aspects of ourselves. So I really like that comment that you made that math moments are made daily or can be made daily. So that's an awesome thing for us to think about, to us being priding ourselves on kind of Making Math Moments and how we can do that for our students.
Farshid Safi: On that note, John, when I listen to you, it also makes me realize that our growth and our journeys are in no way sort of monotonically increasing. In the sense that the ways that we grow sometimes require us to reflect and to revise our actions that may have been fruitful, may have been beneficial for some, but they could be so much more. So the educator and the person that I am today, hopefully is a better version of me than even five months ago.
Jon Orr: Exactly.
Farshid Safi: There's that commitment piece that I know all of us are invested in wanting to be the best versions of ourselves, professionally and personally.
Kyle Pearce: Yes, absolutely. That's so important and I think too, going all the way back to the beginning of your math moment where you had said that these moments are made every day and I agree they are, they can be made and should be made every day but I wonder how often they either go unnoticed in math class, or maybe we've completely avoided some of these moments from happening through maybe how we teach. I know, for a number of years, the moments my students remembered may not be the moments I wish they did remember about my class. I think the message I'm hearing from you right now is this idea of, we're all constantly growing and we always have to continually look to ourselves and how we can grow as educators and as people, again, coming back to that human element.
So I think it leads us into the next piece I really wanted to talk to you about because this is something I found really interesting about your presentation, through the 100 days of math on NCTM. We'll include the link to that presentation in the show notes, but I feel like since I've been in the conference scene, and what I mean by that is I went to my first conference long after I became an educator and that's really what shifted me to start changing the way I thought about teaching and about mathematics.
Over time, I started to at least notice it. Maybe it was always there, but I noticed that more and more sessions are the ones I was noticing had this importance of promoting equitable teaching practices, as well as focusing on making connections and content knowledge. So one thing I did see, though, is that it seemed like there was like these sessions over here that focus on this, on equitable teaching practices, access and equity and diversity and looking at students as individuals. Then there was this other group of presentations that focused on content knowledge or making connections, but your presentation, you chose to bring both of these together very intentionally.
I feel like you've sort of already answered a part of this, but what inspired you to actually act on highlighting the importance of both because so far, you've talked about the importance of us as humans, and about how we can serve our communities, and in this case, with mathematics and education. What inspired you to highlight the importance of focusing on both instead of hyper focusing on one over the other?
Farshid Safi: If I can sort of use the example of we don't know what we don't know, until we begin to experience it. So I make a deliberate point of when the opportunities permit to travel, and then to take and go places and explore with my wife and kids, and see the world so we can learn from the beautiful ways and the brilliance of other people. We were doing that and I've been doing that and I've been privileged to do that on a personal level. Then we have so many students that they are so brilliant, but then their identity and their being and their mathematical brilliance, doesn't find its way not only out for themselves, but in ways that it can also inspire and contribute to the learning of others.
So as a teacher, and as a teacher educator, I feel like I have to increase my intentionality and my commitments to just continue to educate myself and play a role in how it is that we listen to the experts, not just mathematically and pedagogically, but how do we just re-humanize mathematics education, with and for our students, because it's not ours to give, but it is ours to influence and it is ours to contribute to.
Jon Orr: One part of your presentation we really appreciate is, you involved your background is both Iranian and American. Do you mind unpacking this section of the presentation for our listeners so that we can better understand why you think it's important to remove that hyphen.
Farshid Safi: Sure. I think in our mathematical training, many of us learn to appreciate structure and I do too. We want to know does this belong in this class or in this class? Does it belong in set A or set B, or the intersection of sets A and B? Is it one, is it both? Is it the intersection? Is it neither? So mathematics in some ways, allows for this structuring, but what we don't focus on is now given the power of such structure, when does it marginalize? How does it marginalize? So for instance, when you have someone like me, and my story is in no way unique, but it is the one that I know how to tell, because I've lived it and I continue to live it. What happens when you are Iranian, but you're not Iranian enough, because you only spent, say, the first 13 years of your life there and you've spent the vast majority of your life benefiting and living in a different culture and country?
You are Iranian, fully, culturally, in your heart, in your mind and in your being, in your family, but to many Iranians, you're not Iranian enough. At the same time, you're American by birth, you're American by culture, you appreciate all of those things and yet, in society, in community, in politics, you are certainly othered in many ways. So the role of identity, the role of representation, and this othering that happens, it happens racially, it happens religiously. It happens through language.
So something that I can mention to you is, I'm trying to learn more about how we shift away from this binary designation in general. Whether it relates to race, whether it's to sexual orientation, to language to immigration status, to any of these things, because I fully consider myself a person who immigrated here but when I read the fine print, they're like, "Well, no, you're born here. So how could you be an immigrant?" Or, for instance, they'll say, "You learned English at age 13, but we listen to you now. So I don't know which one is your first language." I would maintain, it's not for others to decide. So I think the complexity of identity is very, very important.
Kyle Pearce: Absolutely, and that was something that really struck me during that presentation and I wanted to make sure we asked about it, because you bring up some really interesting pieces where you're feeling like you're in this middle ground. In a less, I would say, less important, but try to make a metaphor for some who may have participated in something. I'm picturing myself as, let's say, a guitar player. Like a lot of people will say, "Oh, Kyle, you have a guitar? Do you play guitar?" I always tend to say, "I fiddle. I'm not really a guitar player. I like to play on the..." but at the end of the day, it's like, no, I am a guitar player.
They didn't ask me how good of a guitar player I was and I feel like we can connect that idea here where you're thinking, like, we have to look at people as who they are and that everyone brings a unique experience, regardless of whether you were born in one country and have stayed there your entire life, whether your skin is one color, obviously, or what tone or what ... There's so many different pieces here that we have to really be aware of, so that we can better understand and meet our students as individuals.
So we've been talking here on this podcast about access and equity a lot, quite a bit lately, especially with things that have happened in the spring and continuing to happen. They might not be in the news right now. Things go in the background, but there's a lot of things we need to be working on in terms of access and equity. We're wondering though, for those who are listening and feeling like they don't know how to get started on this journey, or maybe they're on this journey, but they feel like they're stuck, what are some tips or advice or ideas that you might have to help them not only bring that anxiety level down where they maybe feel like they're not doing enough, or they don't know enough, or they don't know where to get started? Or to get nudged along that journey? Do you have any ideas that might help them get going or get out of that rut that they're feeling right now?
Farshid Safi: The first thing I would say is, I'm on that journey with you and that it is like everything else, I think that if we look at it as an on-off switch, or the light came on to being woke or being socially conscious, I don't know that that's actually the accurate way. To me, coming into more of a realization and acknowledgement and awareness and then moving towards action, at best, is a dimmer switch. It is in no way an on-off switch. So I think learning is the same way. Growing is the same way. Appreciating people and cultures and experiences is the same way.
So things happen gradually, and sometimes that gradual growth does require a few intentional pauses, and maybe some steps back to retrace what we knew or some of the implicit biases that might exist, and I'm still learning about them. So I think part of it comes through being fair to ourselves, but at the same time having the personal and the professional humility, to want to stay committed to this, and then having a community that supports us in wanting to do better. Then as we know better, we do better, individually and collectively.
Jon Orr: I often wonder when we're on these journeys together, and I'm really glad that you say we're always growing together, but I'm thinking about when I'm working with colleagues at my school, and especially I find this in high school, where you might be discussing these ideas that we're talking about here with your colleagues. Then you run into a teacher who says, "Well, I teach math in we do math in my math class. We don't teach this other stuff. Well let English deal with that, or we'll let history deal with that. I'm just doing content. I'm just doing math." These teachers that you work with, and lots of our listeners, have teachers that they work with who say these things, and I guess I'm wondering, to help them out, our listeners with these kinds of conversations. Do you have any tips or advice to broach that subject or just have those conversations?
Farshid Safi: I think one of the ones that I found to be very, very empowering, is making sure that the context stays up front and center throughout. This is one of the reasons why I've become more invested in learning about mathematical modeling, even as a way to get at teacher-content knowledge. Because with modeling, you have to stay with the context and the conditions throughout. So you don't decouple the context from the mathematical processes or the procedures that you might sort of take.
So if the content and connections, if the mathematical ones are always coupled with and married to the context, the communities, the people and the situations that are impacted, whether directly or indirectly, I think, not only does it allow for greater sense making, but it also does actually spark greater curiosity and connections to everything else that we are as people and what we want to do. Then relevance becomes a non issue. I know in the years that I taught high school, I had the opportunity to teach our second algebra course, our algebra two course and then loop with those same students two years later, when I taught them the AP Calculus sequence.
It was amazing, because the mindset was already there, in the sense that we will connect what we do to what you will experience in your science class and in your English class, and in your history, in geography classes, and in arts and an architecture because it is connected. So somewhere along the way, I think academics thought that by uber specializing, we were going to be able to get at strengths better, but I would maintain that the strength comes through the connections and the contexts.
Jon Orr: I really appreciate that you've just said that the specializing can have a detrimental effect and it reminds me of this book range that actually Kyle, you led me on the path, which is kind of about this idea between ... It's not a math book, it's more of a general book, but it's about how we tend to think that we should specialize. Like, if you wanted to create an athlete that's going to go to the Olympics, you need to specialize that athlete to only focus on swimming if they're going to go for swimming, and that's it. Whereas the book makes a huge argument about generalists, and opening your mind to so many different aspects of the world and different things that actually help you say, become an Olympic athlete. It's a great book that says that don't specialize. Keep wider options. Become a studier of the world instead of just narrow down just because you think that you need to specialize.
Farshid Safi: Right, and I think that's such a valid point. I think both with the range book, and Malcolm Gladwell, and all the other work that he does. I think it's beautiful when you see things that might seem not related, and then realize how closely aligned and just interconnected they are. So I have these phenomenal conversations with my brothers, with my wife, with my father, about how when we look at a beautiful building, how much mathematics goes in it, but the people that were involved in constructing it, the considerations that they had to make culturally. So how can we separate the mathematics, the science, the geography, the history, the language?
Why should we compartmentalize in such a way that dehumanizes because if you take that structure, it doesn't work necessarily in the same ways, because it loses meaning, because it can almost detach it from its community. So maintaining that intentional connection with contexts and communities, I think is at the heart of any learning experience, mathematics included.
Kyle Pearce: I couldn't agree more. I think I'm having my own little revelation here and I'm just thinking about our own journey. I want I go back to, you'd mentioned earlier about how we're constantly growing. I like the analogy of the dimmer switch, and how we're constantly trying to be better versions of ourselves. Better teachers, better people and now, as you're talking about how important the context is, and early on, we talked about how you've highlighted the importance of the access and equity piece, but also on the other side ... And diversity, I should mention, but on the other side, the content knowledge as well, because when they are separate, it's very difficult. You look at it as too segmented, you look at it, and you think you have to do one or the other instead of both together.
When I'm hearing you talk about the context, and how important context is, I'm seeing that the journey John and I have been on, we've been on a similar journey, having worked together for quite some time now and trying to better our practice, better ourselves. We focus so intentionally on context when we're creating math moment lessons and units but now, you've got me thinking on air here about how we can more intentionally pull in this community aspect this, what the community of learners that we're working to. Like how do we ensure, and not connecting it from, this is what they like, but how it impacts their daily lives.
That's something that I think I'm going to be adding to my own annual learning plan this year is, how can I make those contexts more intentional for the group of students that I work with but then also, how do we help educators take our units that we share, and offer them suggestions of how they might modify them to suit the students that they're working within their context. I'm just wondering, as I share that reflection out loud, does that give you any ideas or tips or suggestions or how do you go about this, when you're planning a lesson? I'm really curious to see how you can keep that intentionality there at the forefront without feeling that sense of overwhelm.
Farshid Safi: That's a huge challenge and I'm still learning in that way myself. I think one of the ways is that I really, really enjoy listening, and learning from my students, including the privilege I have of learning from a lot of graduate students and PhD students and teachers that I have the opportunity to do professional development with, because our best ideas don't happen in a vacuum. Our students tell us what authentically works for them, and what only may work in our minds. So the goal isn't to design a task or to carry out a task that we love. If so then, more power to us. Stay at home and do that by ourselves.
The goal is how would potentially, through engagement with topics, through having specific learning goals in mind and then implementing tasks intentionally, how do we get closer to actually making a difference and coming an inch closer to wanting to have realizations or steps to move forward individually and then collectively. So one of the ways that I'm really proud of, again, comes through collaboration. So my great friend, Sarah Bush, and then my PhD student, Siddhi Desai and I, about three, four years ago now, we started to think about the notion of gerrymandering, and how much it affected so many of our communities.
In every way, there are so many mathematical concepts that lead into this from areas to equivalence versus equal notions, to spatial reasoning, to ratios, to proportions, to the way that we draw and partition things. That almost cuts through the entire K 12 curriculum, but how do we actually, when we want to engage students ... I had the opportunity to engage elementary students, middle school students, and high school students and college students, and then look at the different learning goals and how does understanding the mathematics that's appropriate for that level help us to understand that picture.
So I tried to do a lot of zooming in and zooming out intentionally, where I want people to have a sense of the large picture, but then we also need to look at it from the zoomed in so that we understand not only the nuances, but how the pieces fit together.
Jon Orr: Two things I wanted to just to highlight that you said. One thing, I appreciated what you said that we're all moving an inch. Like we're not going to just all of a sudden become these teachers that jump from one end of the spectrum to another. It's like we're slowly, inch by inch changing along the way and then that last one that you said is, the two different views of seeing how to lessons and how to connect with your students. Kyle, correct me if I'm wrong, I think it was Graham Fletcher we were talking with and he was calling it the six foot view versus the 60,000 foot view, giving you an image to think about those two ways to look at your lessons, look at your curriculum, look at your planning for those students.
I really appreciated the things that you've been saying here in this chat about making that context. Context is king and that's the way we can not only engage our students, but also connect with them as human beings. I'm wondering right now, during this conversation, if you could ... What would be this last big message that you could leave our listeners with, before we wrap up here?
Farshid Safi: I think one of the big messages would be to again, intentionally look at transdisciplinary connections that connect us all as human beings with our interests, to be able to take advantage of the beauties of people cultures, innovations, and to recognize that there is inherently mathematical aspects that we should be exploring. Many of those mathematical notions have huge socio-political implications that come through our actions, but also our interactions in what we do, and what we fail to do or what we choose not to do.
So I try to also make sure that ... I love working with images. So I like to highlight how the power of for instance, these wonderful centuries-old trees comes from the fact that their roots are connected. So the reason they can withstand all these storms, and all these things that could happen is because of their connections. Some of those connections are seen, some of those corrections are not seen, as well as when you look at again, connecting say, math, science, architecture, art. I love pointillism paintings because you see aspects when you look very closely, but then when you step back, you sort of gain a whole other appreciation, and sometimes, intentionally by the artist, you actually see multiple pictures within one, and our students need more experiences.
We need to make sure as teachers and teacher educators, we find ways for mathematics to continue to just spark this curiosity to make sure that that sense making is part of our daily lives, but so is connecting and feeling and not only empathizing, but almost activating what we can do for others beyond ourselves.
Kyle Pearce: That's fantastic. It's a really important and I love your analogy with the tree and the connections. It speaks to us from the math perspective and again, as John and I continue to try to find ways to connect our context to the context of our students, this has been a really helpful conversation I know for us, and the Math Moment Maker community. So I'm wondering, before we say our goodbyes, Farshid, where might the Math Moment Maker community learn more about you, and your work in math education?
Farshid Safi: Well, so I'm pretty active on Twitter. So @FarshidSafi was not taken. So that is me. So a lot of the things that I think about, but also I try to share and elevate the beautiful work that other people are doing in mathematics education, and in ways that we support our students, our teachers, our schools and our communities. So I would say Twitter to begin with, @FarshidSafi. If my professional obligations allow, I'm hoping to actually dedicate more to a web page and a blog series, but I promised myself to see if you think through by September, so I want to do those first.
I'm also very active in NCTM, in AMTE and I'm trying to learn more about TODOS, so that I can do more. So through those organizations, I make a point of not only being present to share, but also being present to learn. So I would encourage people to check out some of those things, but at the same time, we talked about identity. One of the good things about having the name Farshid Safi is people can just Google it. There aren't too many Farshid Safis that I know about.
So what I'm hoping people recognize is that we don't have to confine ourselves to these structures that somebody else decided upon. You can promote equitable teaching practices, and really focus on content and connections. I've tried to do that and I'm committed to learning how to do that even better.
Jon Orr: We'll put all those links in the show notes and some of the resources that you've mentioned here. I know that I've had lots of times here to reflect in this conversation. I know Kyle has as well, as we often do with our guests but definitely we want to thank you, Farshid for joining us here and helping our Math Moment Makers in the community think about the ways that they can impact the community and their students.
Farshid Safi: Thank you very much. I really enjoyed talking to you and I look forward to learning more in the near future.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome. Thank you Farshid. We'll talk to you soon. Math Moment Makers, we can't thank Farshid enough for spending time with us to share his ideas and insights with you the Math Moment Maker community, and with John and I, because as you know, we learn a ton by participating in these conversations.
Jon Orr: Yes, absolutely. Before we go, we definitely want to remind you of the upcoming 2020 Make Math Moments virtual summit, which is coming up on Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8. Now you can get registered. Head over there right now.
Kyle Pearce: Right. This is one of our favorite times of year, as we mentioned at the beginning of the episode, and we get the honor of bringing some amazing math minds from the math education space straight to you. Not just like you like people here in Ontario, where John and I are from or in Canada, where we're from, or in North America, but actually around the globe. We've got people registered from Australia, New Zealand, India, all over the globe. We are so excited because we get to do it all for free.
Jon Orr: Yes, and if you want some amazing math professional learning from the comfort of your home and couch, we encourage you to pause the episode right now and head to makemathmoments.com/summit to register for the 2020 Make Math Moments virtual summit.
Kyle Pearce: Yes. Our second annual free online math professional development summit is for you, because you are likely either a kindergarten through grade 12 math educator. So there's something for everyone. The dates again are Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8. Again a reminder, Farshid, from this episode is one of our over 30 speakers.
Jon Orr: One of the best parts this year is that we have a number of live sessions over Zoom and some other sessions are pre-recorded for you to enjoy at your convenience over the weekend and up to a week afterwards on the replays.
Kyle Pearce: How exciting this year we're going to be sharing a session by Christina Lincoln-Moore who's discussing mathematics and mindfulness.
Jon Orr: And we've got Chris Luzniak, a recent guest on this podcast. He's going to be sharing a session on debate in math class.
Kyle Pearce: Register now for this year's summit at makemathmoments.com/summit.
Jon Orr: If you're listening to this episode after this year's summit, the replays will be up until November 13 and then they're going to be in the academy for members to gobble up at will.
Kyle Pearce: Hop on over to makemathmoments.com/summit to catch those replays or to find out how you can get into the academy to watch them at will.
Jon Orr: Show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode99. Again, that's makemathmoments.com/episode99.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff, and remember those transcripts are available on our show notes pages. So go grab them. Well, Math Moment Makers, until next time, I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.
Jon Orr: And a big high five for you.
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.