As the district wide Equity Implementation Associate, my role is to help support teachers as they both implement equitable (particularly Culturally and Linguistically Responsive, or CLR) instructional practices and reflect on the why behind these practices. This work isn’t black and white. It isn’t easy and teachers have questions. Lots of questions! And to be honest, it makes my heart so happy that there are so many questions. Questions mean that we are taking our work seriously; that we recognize we need to do better, even if we don’t know how to do better…yet!
In this post, I wanted to take some time to address one of the most common questions I am asked in regards to Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching: “What’s the deal with these call and response protocols?”
I have good news friends…you aren’t the only ones asking that question! There is so much wonderful literature out there that addresses the call and response conundrum.
Why does everything come back to call and response?
“The conventional system of teaching makes mathematics a dud and boring subject. Students are unable to visualize the concept taught by the teacher. Therefore, their interest level goes down. Hence they start developing a disassociation with the subject. If this disassociation continues for a longer period of time, the child starts hating mathematics."
“This damaging idea has been challenged in recent years by neuroscience showing that mathematics is a subject, like all others, that is learned through hard work and practice.”
Research suggests that parents and teachers with anxiety about algebra and equations transmit those feelings to their children and students, who then perform worse on math. Math anxiety has been recognized as an impediment to math achievement. As teachers, our attitude and confidence with math skills have a direct impact on our student's achievement rates in math.
In a recent study, Boaler and her fellow researchers recruited 40 5th-grade teachers from the Central Valley to take a 12-hour online math course she and her team created. The course, “How to Learn Math for Teachers,” covers perceptions about math, how anyone — with enough practice — can develop the brain skills to understand complex math problems, and how math is used in everyday life. The course also covers basic math concepts, such as number patterns and reasoning, and offers tips for teaching those concepts.
When commenting about the impact of the Stanford study, published in the journal Education Sciences, Jo Boaler said,
"Changing the way teachers felt about their own mathematical abilities led them to like the subject, which boosted their enthusiasm for teaching it, [she said]. Their enthusiasm spread to their students, who in turn changed their own attitudes about math and performed better on tests.”
Changing perceptions and skill sets is difficult. Where do we begin? The first step is to adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. If you have not read it already, I highly recommend you read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.d. This philosophy has been a game changer for many. (This one, in my opinion, is also worth a second look even if you have already read it).
About a decade later, Dweck’s Stanford University colleague Jo Boaler piggy-backed off these ideas and applied it to mathematics. Mathematical Mindsets was published in 2016 applying advanced neurological research to how students best learn mathematical concepts. This book sparked an international resurgence in mathematical best practices. This is a must read for any teacher of mathematics. In it, Jo Boaler explores the power of mistakes and struggle, the concept that there are creativity and beauty in mathematics, (A concept I did not get at any time during my math education), the importance of developing flexibility with numbers and how mathematics is a path to equity.
"This wide gulf between real mathematics and school mathematics is at the heart of the math problems we face in education. I strongly believe that if school math classrooms presented the true nature of the discipline, we would not have this nationwide dislike of math and widespread math underachievement.”
Best Way to Change Scores is to Change Teachers Attitudes
Challenging Myths About Learning
Jo Boaler Ted Talk: How you can be good at math and other surprising facts about learning.
(2008) Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, National Mathematics Advisory Panel (U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC).
St.Myers, Andrew; Carey, Bjorn (15 July 2017). "Maryam Mirzakhani, Stanford mathematician and Fields Medal winner, dies". Stanford News. Retrieved 17 July 2017
Jacobson, Howard (29 July 2017). "The world has lost a great artist in mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
This time of year, when I reflect on the different ways we get to know our students after the first few days of school, I often think of my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Anderson. Our first assignment of the year was to write our own obituary (yeah…super morbid, right?). I wrote the required one page of “She was loved by her family…” “She was preceded in death by…” “She did this and that…”. I turned it in and a few days later, it came back to me, dripping in red ink. I was convinced I had completely failed. As I started to read the comments on my paper though, my anxiety lifted. All along the margins, I read comments like, “No way! Your grandpa was my bus driver when I was a kid!” and “Your cousin is my best friend!”. Awkward and anxious me suddenly knew I had someone in my corner. Mr. Anderson was making connections with me that went beyond my favorite color or which sports I play, and I suddenly cared much more about my English class than I ever imagined I would. Throughout the year in that English class, every writing assignment came back with Mr. Anderson’s commentary along the margins, forcing me to rethink my thesis or supporting arguments, or cracking a joke about a silly spelling error. Every once in a while, I would find a post it on my desk, introducing me to authors like Jane Smiley or Toni Morrison (who is, to this day, my favorite). Mr. Anderson had taken the time throughout the year to get to know me both as a learner and as a person who had a life outside of his classroom.
The beauty of this strategy is that is can be used multiple times throughout the year. As students feel more and more comfortable, watch their memoirs change. For more examples, look here.
Round one: Choose a category (such as favorite colors) and tell students to divide themselves into only 4 groups. The students have to work together to determine which 4 colors will be represented. Those whose favorite may not be listed will have to get creative about which group they will belong to.
Round two: Tell students they will now have to divide themselves into 3 groups. Give them another category. Again, students will have to work together and get creative to determine how they will group themselves.
Round three: Now tell students they will have to divide into only 2 groups. Give them a category and let them decide how to split themselves.
This activity helps students find commonalities and make connections with their classmates. They also have to practice problem solving and language skills while they communicate with you and their classmates. You can make the categories more or less complex, depending on your students.
This activity is so versatile. You can use it as a “get to know you” activity or you can have students reflect on class content. Once again, the options are endless. If you need help thinking of questions, check out this website.
In my short time working for the school district, I have noticed there is never enough time in a day to teach all the things that need to be taught and there is an ever-present desire to find new resources. I have also noted the increasing number of blogs and information hubs, such as Pinterest, that have easy ready to use ideas.
As educators, we can be better equipped to teach our students about Indigenous people by taking advantage of events and professional learning opportunities provided by various education associations and societies. Here are some of the great upcoming opportunities, most of which happen on an annual or even more frequent basis.
- The Minnesota Humanities Center has a range of CEU opportunities. Upcoming “Drum & Dance” April 24th, Participants will receive 7 hrs. We just missed “American Indian Storytelling” this has 6 hours attached. “Teaching Bdote: Tools for Educators Teaching American Indian Content” is focused on Dakota people May 19th and is 4 CEU hours.
- St. Cloud State partners with tribes from around the state to facilitate a 5 day immersed learning setting called “Native Studies Summer Workshop for Educators.” This year it is June 25th – 29th and is located at the Lower Sioux Indian Community.
- Minnesota Indian Education Association hosts its conference in Hinkley Minnesota on November 14-16, 2018. All educators are welcome to attend. The keynote speakers and breakout sessions are fantastic. All of which are there to help better implement topics in the classroom or to better reach the native American students in our schools.
- Minnesota Historical Society has numerous resources designed for the classroom in conjunction with state standards. Including primary sources packets, classroom kits, books, and more.
- Native American Literature Symposium recently held an event at Mystic Lake. I was unable to attend, but heard wonderful things.
We can build that sense of belonging and community into our classroom and school culture by carving out a very important 20 minutes at the beginning of each day for a morning meeting; the purpose of which is to focus on building relationships. Relationships between teachers and students and relationships among the students; relationships that will build solid friendships, develop empathy, create greater understanding, foster confidence and deepen that important sense of self-worth and belonging. "People who have a sense of belonging are less likely to want to hurt themselves or others" (Oliker 2012).
- Set the tone for respectful learning
- Establish a climate of trust
- Motivate students to feel significant
- Create empathy and encourage collaboration
- Support social, emotional and academic learning
- Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.
- How we teach is as important as what we teach.
- Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- What we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.
- How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive school environment is as important as our individual contribution or competence.
- Partnering with families—knowing them and valuing their contributions—is as important as knowing the children we teach.
- Greeting: Students and teachers greet and welcome each other.
- Sharing: Students share something about themselves or their lives, and the rest of their peers listen, then ask follow-up questions or offer comments.
- Activity: The group completes an activity that encourages teamwork while re-emphasizing social or academic skills.
- Morning message: Students read a short message from their teacher, usually describing what is to come in the day ahead.
Oliker, Ditta M (2012). On Being the Outsider-the lasting effects of being excluded, Psychology Today Nov. 9 2012
Gardner, C. (2012). Morning meeting and science -- a winning combination. Science & Children, 50(1), 60-64.
Kriete, R., & Bechtel, L. (2002). The morning meeting book. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.
It is essential, that as teachers, we give students fair and consistent boundaries, while at the same time, maintaining and preserving relationships. A majority of our students are motivated to learn and behave when we operate from a base of INFLUENCE instead of POWER.
Some may think using ENVoY means misbehavior is ignored but that is not the case. ENVoY is not void of discipline. It is more importantly, a set of solid culturally responsive routines used to influence students to increase their on-task independence. When discipline is needed, staff should utilize their building-wide processes and procedures.
ENVoY GEMS are not essentially new practices to many teachers. You may already be doing some of the GEMS and not even know it! Accessing a Resident ENVoY Coach for Green Chair Coaching can help you identify what is already in place and work with you to help your classroom be even MORE effective. These coaches have extensive training and can assist you in your performance or refine your current skills. This partnership of knowledge or experience sharing, enhances the experience for all the students in the classroom(s), improving the effectiveness of the teacher.
Think of it like this: If you purposely tried to use words mostly for content and relationships, and used non-verbal signs, gestures, or signals to manage behavior/transitions, how would that impact your classroom? Coaches can help you identify the balance and art of managing behaviors by influence rather than power.
These practices are not only for classrooms, but media centers, hallways, gyms, computer labs, special education rooms, and main offices can also feel the positive impact of ENVoY.
Getting Attention: Freeze Body, Above Pause Whisper
Teaching: Raise Your Hand/Speak Out
Transition to Seat Work: Exit Directions, M.I.T.S. (Most Important Twenty Seconds)
Seatwork: Off/Neutral /On, Influence Approach
- Bell tone signals attention
- Call and response “I say eyes, you say up”
- “6th Graders” (with raised hand).
The value of the routine affords any guest teacher the opportunity to gather students efficiently with their own Above Pause Whisper as well.
ENVoY recommends routines for students to manage their own learning. After group instruction, teachers go through Exit Directions then allow students a moment to process, ask questions for clarification, then move into work time. The teacher can use the visuals to NONVERBALLY direct students who may need additional help getting started. Exit Directions also ease transitions for students and adults entering the room at various times. They quickly read what the class is working on and are able to begin with minimal direction/distraction.
Silent Select (written names for student selection)
ENVoY recommends silent select for least disturbance when requesting students from classrooms. Support teachers could write students names on whiteboards or have printed lists and smile and stand silently at the door.
and Angie Ellsworth, Behavior/ENVoY Coach, Pinewood Elementary
Feel free to connect with Paula via her email or Angie via her email
Supporting our students who are not looking forward to winter break.
- In our district, Mayo, John Marshall and Century High Schools have Community Resource rooms where students can access food, clothing and hygiene products.
- Riverside and Gage Elementary schools also have Community Resource rooms.
- The Rochester Salvation Army http://salvationarmynorth.org/community/rochester/
- Community Food Response (CFR) is a volunteer-led nonprofit that provides free meals to hungry people to take home or eat elsewhere. This website provides dates and locations for free meals. http://www.communityfoodresponse.org/
- TEAM Rochester is a community faith based partnership that provides food distribution to needy persons and families. http://teamrochester.net/inHisName.html each month, In His Name reaches out with food and faith providing food boxes at a cost of only $10 to the recipients.
Not All Students Look forward to the Holidays, Trevor Muir, https://www.weareteachers.com/supporting-students-winter-break/ Dec. 14, 2017
Parenting Kids As much as we would like to, we cannot make this the most wonderful time of the year for all our students, but with a little thoughtfulness we may be able to make it a little less difficult for those that are struggling.
Who Sabotage the Holidays, https://www.thechaosandtheclutter.com/archives/parenting-kids-who-sabotage-holidays
5 Reasons You might NOT Look Forward to the Holidays, http://wisestressmastery.com/5-reasons-holidays/ December 3, 2015
Your thoughts can swirl out of control and spill over into your physical world. Stop them in their tracks. Don’t let your thoughts barrel down the tracks of your mind and drive your decisions.
While many of us like to commiserate together, it is more important than ever to avoid this type of interaction during high stress times. Instead, treat yourself to time with people who make you laugh until it hurts!
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Members of the Elementary C&I team post useful tools, tips, and tricks on a weekly basis to help you help students.
Analysis & Inquiry
Instructional Learning Formats
Quality Of Feedback
Regard For S's Perspective