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Include Others As Experts

Updated: Jan 17

by Dr. Pamela Seda




BREAKING IT DOWN


At Seda Educational Consulting, we are committed to supporting educators like you in creating equitable and inclusive learning environments. We understand the importance of the ICUCARE Equity Framework in promoting excellence and equity in mathematics instruction. That's why we're excited to introduce our monthly campaign, "ICUCARE in Action," where we'll dive deep into each of the principles of the ICUCARE Equity Framework, one principle each month.


Our goal is to empower you with valuable insights, resources, and strategies that align with the ICUCARE framework.  We will kick off this series with the first principle, Include Others As Experts: Create classroom environments that extend beyond the teacher as the sole authority to develop competence and confidence in others as experts, including the students themselves.


This week, we explore the concept of who the experts truly are in a mathematics classroom. Often, students perceive textbooks and teachers as the sole sources of knowledge. Traditional teaching methods reinforce the idea that the teacher is the ultimate authority, which can lead to a competitive atmosphere where only the most assertive students gain attention, leaving others behind.


However, teachers who embrace the principle of "Include Others as Experts" understand that knowledge is not limited to textbooks or the teacher. They emphasize that correctness is found in mathematical reasoning, not just the teacher's judgment. In equitable classrooms, teachers help students identify the wealth of mathematical expertise present among their peers.


Recognizing a classmate's proficiency in mathematics is not enough; students need guidance on how to utilize that expertise to enhance their own mathematical competence. Effective teachers encourage students to acknowledge the areas of expertise that exist within each student, fostering a collaborative and inclusive learning environment.

By shifting the focus from the teacher as the sole authority to a collective recognition of expertise among students, we empower learners to develop their mathematical skills through collaboration and peer learning.



 

3 TIPS TO TRY IN THE CLASSROOM


Foster a Math Talk Community:

Shift your classroom dynamics from a group of isolated students to a Math Talk Community where students are not only responsible for their individual learning but also actively support the learning of their peers. Karen Fuson and Steve Leinwand provide insightful guidance on this approach in their article featured in the  March 2023 issue of Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching.


Emphasize the Math Talk Community Rubric:

Consistently refer to the Math Talk Community Rubric throughout your instruction. This helps students understand your expectations and values within the classroom. Recognize that students may carry negative perceptions of their math abilities due to years of traditional schooling practices. Be patient; change takes time.


Ensure Intellectual Engagement in Group Roles:

When assigning group roles, ensure that all roles require active intellectual engagement with the mathematical content. Avoid assigning roles that only involve administrative tasks like distributing materials, while others engage in synthesizing group ideas. Susan Ledlow's Roles and Gambits can provide valuable guidance in this regard.


Together, these three tips can help develop your students as confident and competent learners of mathematics.


References

Fuson, Karen & Leinwand, Steve. (2023). Building Equitable Math Talk Classrooms. Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12. 116. 164-173. 10.5951/MTLT.2022.0285.


Ledlow, Susan (1997), Roles and Gambits. Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence, Arizona State University


Seda, P., & Brown, K. (2021). Choosing to see: A framework for equity in the math classroom. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.


 

include others as experts

Dr. Pamela Seda is a veteran math educator with over 30 years of experience. She is a wife, a mother of 4 adult children, the owner of Seda Educational Consulting, creator of The VANG Game math card game, and co-author of the book, Choosing to See: A Framework for Equity in the Math Classroom. She has held various positions in math education including high school math teacher, instructional coach, college math instructor, and district math supervisor. Dr. Seda is passionate about changing how students experience mathematics, especially those from marginalized groups, and advocates for mathematics instruction that develops all students as mathematical thinkers and problem-solvers.

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