“Math can serve as both a gateway and a gatekeeper for opportunities in and outside of school” (Aguirre, Mayfield, Martin, 2013). From advanced classes to high-demand career pathways, math serves as one of the strongest indicators for student success. However, not all students, especially students furthest away from educational justice, see themselves as math thinkers and doers, and get the opportunity to leverage their strengths through meaning-making and discourse in the classroom.
So, how do we change math education? Teachers, families, and communities each play a crucial role in developing a student’s belief in their ability to effectively tackle math problems and to connect math to their lived experiences. The Learning for Equity Network (LEN) connects these groups to establish learning experiences and foster opportunities that celebrate student diversity, encourage critical thinking, and inspire problem solving.
The LEN implements three different approaches:
Instead of groups working independently to provide math support to students, we connect parents, educators, and community members from across a student’s life to collectively find solutions.
Time is limited, so we leverage collective knowledge to support math exploration for students. Our goal is to expand the capacity of families and teachers by creating relationships between communities and schools.
We are all wise. We bring educators, families, and administrators together in monthly brainstorming sessions to think about math education and our shared roles in cultivating math joy for students. Teachers explore their roles within classroom instruction, while families address math identity formation and how it affects a student’s perception of mathematics.
We are building relationships and piloting plans that will continue to evolve as students learn and grow in their knowledge of mathematics in school and at home. As our journey grows, we commit to sharing our progress and our process, as we strive to see math spark identity, connection, and joy for students.