CMC Central Presentation: Building Classroom Culture

Yesterday I presented at CMC Central and I told the lovely group of humans I would up load the presentation here.

Here’s the description I sent in:


It’s relationships that make our students want to perform. The quick end of class question. The deeper outside of class conversation. Research shows that students work harder for teachers that they perceive care about them and well all of us do our caring is not always evident to the students. This session gives educators a model for building positive classroom culture using a social contact, restorative justice, and circles.

First, participants will have the opportunity to build a social contract using the same process that is used with students in order to construct social norms that foster a productive learning environments.
Participants will then join in circles. Learning how to structure them including good questions to ask and how to assess the trust level in their classrooms. Mod- els will be shown on social development and curriculum circles.

The last portion will focus on restorative justice. Traditional discipline suspends relationships which leads to further behavioral problems and decreased learn- ing. It also disproportionally punishes students of color. Some simple restorative methods can lead to an outcome that repairs instead of suspends. Using restorative justice teachers will send students back to work and productive much faster than traditional discipline. We all know that students who are not in our classrooms can’t learn. Let’s get them back and learning as quickly as possible.

Here are my slides. 🙂

Let me know if you have questions. 🙂


New Year. New Goals? Same Goals? Goals.

I am not a great goal setter.  I like the idea of them but I don’t usually speak them out loud and I don’t usually follow through so it makes total sense that that I going to set some right now:

  1. Prioritize time with friends/ say yes. There was  a year when I worked at Emma when I decided that I was just going to say yes to every invitation I could reasonably do.  The past couple years I have flipped that and prioritized being alone and that’s been good for me but this year’s goal is to do more not less.
  2. Keep a to do list/ journal. I did this for a chunk of last year and felt super on top of my life. I am going to try again.  I am also interested in being able to look back and see what I did this year.
  3. Be a better ally.  I want to show up more and do more.  This includes more phone calls to congress and house members. Open to other suggestions.
  4. Really listen. To my friends, to my students, to my family. I’m going to put down my phone more.
  5. Eat like an adult. I like candy more than you.  I can almost guarantee it.  I did a good job of eating well for like two months last year but I need to start again with this school year.
  6. Figure out how money works.  I’ve talked about this here before but I really have no idea how to budget or save or not just throw away money. I am seriously considering hiring a personal finance person to help me.
  7. Keep climbing 3-4 times a week.  It makes me happy and stable. Maybe take up running again? Even the idea seems terrible.
  8. Date. I did a pretty good job this summer but if we’re being honest I need to really try if this is a thing I want in my life and I do.  I want a partner and kids and all that. So here it is. I am going to try.
  9. School Goals:
    1. Talk less, listen more. (I just want to be Burr apparently) But really I want to make sure I am taking time to hear the kids and my colleagues.
    2. See more teaching.  Get out of my classroom during my prep and see other people teach.

Alright, that’s it.  Those are my goals.  They are not small. I am putting an alert in my calendar for two months from now (October 7) to update you on how I’m doing.  Also, do you have goals for this year?  Wanna share?

Do Better. A response to Dan Meyer’s Let’s Retire the #MTBoS

Update August 1: I feel pretty strongly about the content of this post but it’s goal was not to throw Dan under a bus it was supposed to be a wake up call. A harsh reminder of the fact that while I know he personally itches at the idea of being a leader or of this group at all having a leader at all he is it by default. By blogging first, by blogging often, by providing real classroom stuff before the rest of us, by doing a tedTalk.  While I do use the f-word in this post and it’s pretty common in my vernacular (please don’t try to see how many times I have used it here, its a lot) I understand that that came off as at least not helpful and at most pretty mean.  I also know that twitter has rallied around this post and some of that contributed to the bus throwing.
This is all to say Dan, I’m sorry. I was harsh. I hurt you and I damaged a long standing relationship. It was not my intention but as that impact matters more.


This is a response to this post by Dan Meyer.

Part 1

Let’s start here. Actually let’s start before here.  Is that a thing? Before here.  Let’s start with me addressing my own privilege in this community.  I have been a member of the online math teacher community since (according to my twitter) 2010.  I have about a thousand followers many of whom of are also early adopters of the twitter and blogging.  This platform reaches between one and two thousand people and some posts I have written are regularly read in teacher credentialing programs.  This is not to brag.  This is just to say, I understand my privilege in this community and my power (which is not a ton but definitely some).

Now let’s talk about Dan’s.  Seven years ago Dan wrote a post about me that actually got me a job interview. It is a lovely post. Dan has about 57 thousand followers on twitter.  For reference Josh tweeted this:

While many of us consider Sam and Kate as influencers in the math teacher community each of them have about six thousand followers to Dan’s 57. That is not including his blog or the training he does for districts. In every interview panel I have every sat in for a math teacher job someone has mentioned Dan and his work.  That is to say Dan has a lot of privilege and power within this community.

For those tl;dr friends: I have some status. Dan has all of it.

Part 2

Okay, Let’s go back to this

I’m sorry but my first response to that was actually outloud, “Well, fuck you.”

But my second response is this timeline:

  • In 2012 PCMI participants got an email sending them to the weebly and Tina tweeted requesting people welcome those newbies.
  • In June of 2013 there was State of the MTBoS global math discussion.
  • 2013 was the year of PD where a bunch of people (I think Dan included) made presentations for their departments on how get involved.
  • At 2013 TMC and 2016 TMC there were “breaking out of ourselves” sessions to discuss expanding the MTBoS
  • October 2013 was the first Explore MTBoS initiative on the explore site ( but there had been one before that hosted on our blogs
  • We’ve done lots of impromptu blogging initiatives to help people gain momentum
  • April 2015 was the first NCTM booth and the April 2015 was also Explore MTBoS timed to go with the booth
  • January 2016 there was another Explore MTBoS initiative
  • January 2017 there was another ExploreMTBoS initiative

I guess it’s not obvious that we are trying to expand out community?  That we are attempting to make a blatantly laid out the path to gaining social capital in the community.

And again: tl;dr there are countless efforts to make the community more inclusive and intuitive happening all the time and a great number of people invested in this work (for no money or personal gain).

Part 3

Now here’s where I get real. I don’t really care what hashtag you tweet under. #MTBoS #iteachmath #statschat #elemmath. I don’t do a good job of following any of those. Carl could tell you which get used the most but it really doesn’t effect me.  I mostly follow people I know and people who tweet at me and any real good retweets.  Here at the 600 word count is where my problem with this whole post is:


You saw a problem and decided to fix it without asking or looking first.  You didn’t consider your privilege or status as the most prominent member of our community.

Problem: People feel like the MTBoS is an exclusive club. Tweets are going unanswered.

Solution: NEW HASHTAG!!!!

This is not a solution. This is also not how to community organize.  The post you wrote hurt a lot of very active members of this community.  It made unfair assumptions (that we don’t already talk about this and worry about this all the time).  It’s tone was dismissive of the seriousness of this problem.

I am going to reference this article on how to use your privilege to structure this note:

  1. Listen and Trust. Ask first if the work is already being done.  When someone says it is, believe them.
  2. Not every conversation needs your voice…
  3. But some do. You have a large platform and you are trying to do the work get involved, awesome! This community is made up of people doing this work for free.
  4. Signal Boost. This is what should have happened in the first place.  How about a post about all the work already being done?
  5. Accept when you’re wrong and try to learn from it. There were several people on twitter calling you out on this and instead you continued to argue. In fact even in your rewording of the post you don’t ever apologize. 
  6. Don’t expect thank yous.
  7. Do something. Host an explore the MTBoS.  Have a link on your blog. Ask Tina, Lisa, Sam, or Julie what they most want amplified. 

tl;dr I am pissed not so much about the hashtag itself but actually Dan’s use of privilege and disregard for the work already being done.

Part 4

Saturday, I tweeted I was annoyed with Dan’s post and Dan invited me to take it offline:

Dan, I didn’t do that. I wrote this instead. It is long and unwieldy and not nearly as angry as it would have been had I have wrote it Saturday.  You hurt my friends and didn’t apologize.  You were condescending to me and didn’t recognize your own power.  This post may generate some some conversations and there will be people who disagree me.  I’m happy to chat about that here or on twitter.  I am giving this conversation 3 days and then I’m out.  Because as Auntie Maxine says, “I’m reclaiming my time.”

tl;dr It’s short just read it.



p.s. I read a great article about how she loves when millennials call her Auntie Maxine and I am so in.


P.P.S.  Some other posts on this topic: Fawn, Kate, Grace

Selfie February or #selfieshellout

Four years ago I started a tradition of taking a selfie everyday for the month of February.   If was silly fun and I got to see the faces of people I don’t see everyday and I love.

Weirdly the world is not the same as it was four years ago so I am slightly adjusting this year. Here’s the plan:

  • Everyday for the month of February I will post a selfie
  • Everyday for the month of February I will donate a small amount of money (less than 5 dollars) to a different charity or organization that is fighting the fight.
  • I will link to that organization both in my post (I am making my instagram public for this but will also tweet and facebook)

Here’s what I need from you:

  • Join me! I am posting the first one today.  Start tomorrow and use my same organization (you definitely can chose your own)
  • Send me organizations that need support to continue their fight.  This is a big one.  I am not going to perfectly vet every single one so if you have one you love send it my way. (comment here, tweet at me, comment on facebook)
  • If you don’t agree with an org I donate to choose your own!
  • Hashtag all your posts #selfieshellout


If you donate $2 a day this is a $56 commitment.  My plan is to cut out fast food by myself this month which should more than cover this.  Maybe you do one week or maybe you do $10 a day. I don’t know your life.

I am starting with my local NPR station KPBS. But here’s an easy way to find yours.


So with out further ado. #selfieshellout


Today I am donating to KPBS in order to help protect the first amendment and also because I love NPR Politics Podcast and Pop Culture Happy Hour. #Selfieshellout

Things I am doing.


  1. Staying informed. (It’s hard because it’s overwhelming but not knowing is not an option)
  2. Spending time with women friends.
  3. Donating small amounts of money regularly.
  4. Supporting independent artists and big companies that are making the right choices.
  5. Teaching the children.
  6. Prioritizing cleaning, showering, and exercising. Gotta be fit to #resist.
  7. Telling my loved ones that I love them.
  8. Sending more real mail.
  9. Trying to save money possibly using ellevest, has anyone used them?
  10. Saying yes and showing up for as many things as I can.
  11. Finding the pieces of joy in my days.

Happy FriYay 😆#TheRevolutionWillHaveJoy

A photo posted by Radical Monarchs (@radicalmonarchs) on Jan 27, 2017 at 4:29pm PST


When the exhaustion is real.

It’s been almost a month since Ivanka’s Dad became our president-elect. (I stand with the podcast Call Your Girlfriend in refusing to say his name)  Maybe for some of you it was a win but for me it was a devastation.

I was, without a doubt, mean to the children for two weeks.  I found myself yelling for no reason.  I had no patience.  I cried over everything and nothing.

here is a sampling of my tweets:


I cried, a lot. In fact I am crying now writing this. I am still tired. I am still emotionally wrecked.  It’s only been a month and I feel like I am supposed to be better. And I am.  I am better.  This job is too hard to do when you are empty.  It is too hard to do when your heart it broken.  It is impossible to do with any sort of quality without a deep well of empathy and patience.

So I sit here with tears that are still coming a little bit too fast and empathy that is still coming a little bit too slow and say to you, If you’re ready to rebuild those things and teach the children again, I’m trying.  I will talk with you about self care. I will laugh at your stories and I will cry about the realities of the next four years. I am lucky enough to be in a place where moving out of the sad and empty phase is possible and if you want someone to do that with, I’m here. Also, if you need someone to sit with you cause you can’t I can do that, too.

With all the love,



From the mouths of…

My Children. Present without comment but with permission.

“Today I am feel really mad at all the people adults in the nation who decided to vote for someone that thinks “Making America Great Again” is done by eliminating people from this nation who want a better life.”

“We all obviously nervous. For whats gonna happen. if were gonna stay or not. Its also scary we are all being label once again.”

“I WANT MY RIGHTS.  idk what I am trying to say. I am just upset.”

“The reason I am sad is because Trump was elected but I guess it’s okay until January thats when the truble comes and the rest I don’t want to say because it’s too emotinal for me.”

” I have two older sisters who were not born here but have DACA. Donald Trump said he would take DACA away.”

“I’m scared Trump will really deport all illegal immigrants back to Mexico. If this is true, I’m not ready to see a lot of my family gone.”

“I dreamt Clinton won somehow and everything was okay.”

“He doesn’t make the laws. He can’t force people out right of the bat.”

“Why American? Well, he’s 70, maybe he’ll keel over before too long.”

“It seems that I’m not as valuable a person as I thought I was.”

“I’m worried about Trump. I’m excited about Friday.”

“I feel really pissed off about the election.”

“Today I am worried that eventually my mom and dad are in trouble and that they will eventually be taken back to Mexico or jail for being here in California.”



#CMCmath Restorative Justice and Circle Talk Resources

I spoke at CMC South today and while I am super happy with how if went there will definitely be a reflective piece about my first time speaking (outside of the safety of TMC) and all the things I need to do differently next time.

But for now I just want to put up all the resources I used.


This is the post on circles I wrote a while back.

Looking at it now I want to do a whole post on circle questions.

Restorative Justice

I condensed what is 3 days worth of training into to 45 minutes so instead of trying to type all that out I’m just going to link you to all my resources.

I said this was WashPo but it’s NY Times Magazine.  This article is a primer in RJ.

What is RJ?

Implementing RJ in Schools

Edutopia’s Collection of Links on RJ


I will post more about the talk and circles later.






I am a white lady. It’s not a surprise to anyone who has meet me, I mean I am quite obviously white, able-bodied, and female.  Which puts me in right in the majority of my students’ teachers.  In fact some of my 9th graders hadn’t had a male teacher until middle school.  Many of them could count the few non-white teachers they had on one hand. I was not one of them. I am a güerita.

It took me a lot of years to figure out I was white or at least to know it in anyway that mattered.  It took more than that for me to be able to talk about it in class.  This snippet happened recently as part of a bigger conversation.

I didn’t know I was white growing up. – me

What do you mean you didn’t know?- Student 1

Well, when did you know you were brown? – me

Like, I don’t know, always. – Student 2

I mean, seriously, like I never didn’t know. -S1

No really, think, when was the first time you knew that you were brown?. -me


I guess it was when my mom looked different than the other moms at kindergarten. I like knew those kids were white so I was not white.- S2

Yeah, I mean I always noticed kids had different skin even when I was really little. – S1

Okay, well I didn’t know being white was even a thing til high school and I didn’t realize it affected my life til I was probably 26. -me

I talk to kids about the way I grew up.  I talk about the way people look at me in stores, the way I see myself reflected in tv and books, the things people assume about me because I am white.  I talk about privilege.  I use the word privilege.  I tell them I have all sorts of privilege they don’t I’m an adult, I’m their teacher, and I’m white.

I have said this before and will say it again, I am not a magical wizard teacher.  I do not do this perfectly all the time. I do not casual inform my children about racism in the perfectly modeled lesson with questions ready and responses pre-thought.  I do though wade in to waters that are tricky.  I stumble and screw up and falter for the right words. I do not get through to every child.  White boys are a particular challenge for me in these conversations.

I can say pretending that me being a white lady didn’t matter wasn’t effective.  Thinking that the children might not notice I was white or trying not to notice they weren’t (or were) did not lead to a realistic community in my classroom.

In my student teaching I taught a class of Algebra 1 in Spanish for students who were new to the country.  My Spanish was not good enough to do this but I tried.  They tried so hard to say Schwartz but the schwa sound doesn’t really exist in Spanish so when I wasn’t there they called me güerita.  Essentially, nice white lady or white lady we like.   I would like to say that that was a tipping point in realizing my whiteness but it wasn’t.  It came much later for me.  Maybe, just maybe, the conversations in my classroom will push that timeline up for someone else.

Chalkline with Noah Cho.

Dudes, the summer lazies are hitting sooooo hard.  So this is two days late.  Ooopps.

Episode 9.

This week I am talking to an English teacher!  I know shocking.  Noah Cho is super rad.  You can read some of his writing about his amazing identity curriculum here or here.  Or some thoughts on dating while being an Asian dude here.

To listen: Code Switch or NPR Politics.

To watch: Did any of you follow the #carefreeblackkids2016 hashtag?  It was so lovely this vine  I have watched it approximately 100 things.

To read: Melinda again, Melina always.  This article on the lasting impact of Social Justice on our students of color.


People Noah thinks you should follow on Twitter:  Nicole Chung and Celeste Ing