Do you believe yourself to be good at math? Do you remember the moment you first believed? What have you done with this perceived status? Have you ever had your membership threatened? If you have never been invited I consider this your formal invitation. I cannot wait to see you there!
Video of this talk
Danger of Being Noticed: Safety in Community
I announced recently that I am taking a much needed return to a school after serving as district elementary math specialist for a few years. I am sure that this is the right move at the right time in career but I am nervous!
I have realized a few things recently. There is a strange safety in not being noticed. When you go unnoticed you are safe when you are wrong. When you share you ideas and people take note of them you run a risk of being catapulted into a place you are not ready to occupy.
I am SO beige you guys! The background is my friend. My girlfriends joke me all the time about makeup and wearing one color BROWN!! Which is hilarious when you see my picture. I am often encouraged to try on color. This is what “trying on color” in my math journey has been like:
Attending professional development with high school or middle school math teachers because I want to learn and I am curious. (they don’t bite…in fact they are pretty supportive)
Raising my hand to say that thing I am wondering even though that girl across the room speaks so eloquently and appears to know exactly what she is talking about. (“that girl”…was delighted to share ideas with me and was equally intrigued by the simplicity of my question)
Saying “ I am not sure I understand you, can you say more” when I am lost and need clarity. (I often get that glance that says “thanks” or “me too” from across the room after asking)
So as I leap head first onto the front line even my butterflies have butterflies! Having admitted this, I am also incredibly hopeful. I have learned the following things about community through the MTBoS and my interactions in math learning communities that are proving to ease my anxiety:
There is safety in genuinely learning together. (There are lessons to be learned from the wolves and lions…packs and prides…no one of us is as good as all of us)
This is a marathon… and I am just in training. (I tell myself often “just keep swimming…”)
Luke 12:48 “to whom much is given, much is expected” (it is on me to make learning safe for my teachers, students and community at large because people do this for me daily)
Rock on Guys! Keep the invites coming. Share your reality. It just might be the help someone else needs.
You are Invited…Now What?
Since the talk there have been a bunch of us grappling with how we go about inviting people. I have read and responded to so many tweets and comments that I completely relate to. Upon recent reflection, I am wondering about the anxiety that being invited may bring to a new member of “the math party”. I thought I would be transparent here in hopes of starting a conversation about making space for those feeling “not so great” at math. To capture this I plan to share moments of “real talk” and offered a possible action step for each for your thoughts and consideration.
Real Talk: It takes me a long time to wrap my head around most math ideas and especially in a large or public setting.
So what this means is that when I read Q1(question #1) on the latest #elemmathchat for the 3rd time to rethink, most of the rest of the people in the chat are on Q5! What learned last night with @MFAnnie and friends is that this is totally okay! I was so encouraged when @maxmathforum and @bstockus met me at my A1(answer #1) to ask a great question or engage around my representation. They really care about my entry idea even though they are on idea #10
Action Step 1: Try a twitter chat (newly invited) Be sure to check in with those of us who are slower to respond (veteran tweeters)
I am running into new moments of clarity every day so I am sure I will adding more! Let me know if you think of one!
Where Do I Begin?
Thank you all for stepping up to the challenge of inviting the otherwise “uninvited”. It was so great to talk to so many people after the conference who were really reflecting on their “circles” and how they might broaden the group of people who feel like their math ideas had possibility. Many have asked about how they should start. I don’t have the answer but I do have some ides after talking to a few people. Take them for what they are worth to you and feel free to add more.
Kaneka’s Next Step:
I need to keep my eyes and ears open for teachers who are looking to be part of community. I met a great new teacher from Delaware (@The_Branderson) after my talk. She asked me if I had 5 minutes to talk. During our talk she asked the best questions (see below). I suggested that she connect with Kristen Gray in Delaware and that she look in to the local NCTM affiliate in her area. I also suggested that she get on Twitter just to feel around and get acclimated. Most important I decided to stay connected to her to help her out along the way.
What should I be doing to be better connected outside of my school?
Does every state have a math community?
Is it okay to share an idea that you learned from someone else on twitter? Is that like “plagiarism”? (This was not her question verbatim but it was close)
How do I join the MTBoS?
What might we all take from this 5minute conversation?
How does someone “join” the MTBos? If there is no such thing as “joining” why might it feel this way? What can we do to fix the misconception?
How can we share with those around us about upcoming conferences, professional learning experiences and state NCTM affiliate information?
Can someone explain Twitter etiquette? Sharing ideas is encouraged right?
Take small bites. The great thing about social justice is that it makes you feel like a superhero. You are ready to dash off and right the wrongs of the world. We should be careful to listen for needs and opportunity. Start small and be consistent. Most of all let’s encourage each other. Please send ideas for how you think we might extend the invitation. I welcome your thoughts on any of this.
I am Kaneka Turner, math enthusiast! I am a math teacher, a professional math cheerleader and an overall investigator of math learning. My greatest joy is being completely present in the moments that understanding takes place. I am a wife, a mom of two and dog lover. I am currently serving elementary schools in Charlotte, NC as an elementary math specialist.