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Are your teachers afraid of teaching math? Do teachers avoid answering students’ questions about math because they lack confidence in themselves, even if they understand the content? Did you know that teachers pass their anxiety along to their students (especially girls)? Professional development with Compassionate Math discusses the negative emotions anyone, including teachers, have towards math and the results that occur. One result is the unconscious messaging that teachers send students; Compassionate Math helps teachers eliminate negative internal messages and support any necessary content development. A more confident teacher results in students who are more successful and comfortable in a mathematical environment.

How anyone feels about math isn’t based on their own abilities, how smart they are, or how hard they work. It’s based on whether he or she is a victim of the Cycle of Benign Neglect. This cycle affects the way we currently teach and learn math. The Cycle of Benign Neglect says that we are where we are as a country in math learning because of radical shifts in policy from generation to generation, not poor teaching. The consequences of the Cycle of Benign Neglect are felt every day in the classroom when negative emotions get in the way of our ability to do math. Other factors, such as the student of math anxious teachers who develop math anxiety, perpetuate this cycle.

I provide a number of workshops and presentations to help support your math learning needs and shut down the Cycle of Benign Neglect using research-based methods. Every talk is personalized to the institution and audience, so please feel free to contact me for more information. Developing a workshop or talk can be as hands-on as you would like so we can be sure to meet your department’s needs. Classroom observation and protocols where classroom interactions are measured to reduce implicit biases and foster a more equitable math classroom of diverse learners can also be conducted.

Considering the emotional side of teaching math can help foster a more inclusive and compassionate classroom. This is particularly important if a teacher feels especially confident in their math learning skills and needs supporting students whose emotions block their intellectual growth. Overall, the Compassionate Math framework will help students improve their test scores and be more likely to enter a STEM field. More importantly, students will develop strong quantitative reasoning skills, the price of which is immeasurable.

A note about rigor

My perspective on supporting teachers is that affect and socioemotional factors are critically important and often neglected when thinking about teaching math. However, this does not mean that rigor should ever be compromised. SUCCESS COMES FROM RIGOROUS CONTENT PROVIDED IN A NURTURING ENVIRONMENT. Too often in our math classes, we focus on rigor without nurturing the learner. We need both since mathematics is an intensive and difficult field with lots of baggage. Professional development with Compassionate Math balances rigor with an emotionally nurturing learning environment.

What to expect from professional development with compassionate math

  • Connect with me to discuss your needs and expectations.
  • Experience a personalized workshop for your team based on rigorous research. Professional Development can be live or via remote workshops depending on your location, budget, and current health needs. Within the coming year, asynchronous workshops may be offered.
  • Implement your plan to transform math learning in your classes.

Overall, I provide a professional development program catered to teachers’ needs. A good example of this is my personal needs workshop where I work with teachers over at least three meetings. In the first meeting, I observe teachers’ classes and hold a listening session to hear first-hand what their needs and desires are to improving their craft. In the second meeting,  which could last more than one session, I present pedagogical tools or content support to address these needs. In the third workshop we debrief and I provide tips on how to maintain and expand on what they learned. Because my goal is to support teachers, I insist that the teachers have a hand in determining what help they receive.

Compassionate Math was the 2021 Institute for Education Innovation’s Supes’ Choice winner in the Most Innovative Professional Development Category.

Topics for professional development

  • Supporting math learning in a “post”-COVID world.
    • Outlines a three-pronged framework where teachers can leverage the experiences of students and engage them in authentic mathematics.
  • Filling the Learning Gap
    • Learn “just in time” strategies to help fill the gaps left after more than a year of online and remote learning.
  • Implicit motivation in the mathematics classroom.
    • Why implicit motivation is more necessary than ever and how to incorporate activities and policies to increase implicit motivation.
  • Overcoming the fear of teaching math.
    • Strategies to use in and out of the classroom to help new and/or math-phobic teachers respond to math questions they can’t answer in the moment.
  • Creating a compassionate math learning space.
    • Defines what a compassionate learning space is and offers classroom policies and activities to foster this space.
  • Overcoming your own math trauma to help your students.
    • Defines the Cycle of Benign Neglect, how it affects current teachers, and how to overcome its effects.
  • Equity and social justice / diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in mathematics education.
    • Why equity and social justice are necessary ideas to consider in a math classroom.
    • How to incorporate topics or projects related to equity and social justice in your math classroom.
  • Reducing your implicit bias to affect student success.
    • How implicit bias affects mathematical achievement and strategies to reduce it.
  • Using Math Affirmations to increase student confidence.
    • An activity to include in classes which raises students’ confidence and grades. This work was published in the February 2018 edition of MathAMATYC Educator.
  • Mathematics anxiety in teachers or students.
    • Understanding math anxiety, how it affects mathematical achievement and strategies to reduce it.
  • Fostering a strong mathematical identity in students.
    • Helping students see that they are “math people”
  • Helping students with word problems.
    • A strategy to help students write and proofread their algebraic equations using what I call “equality of thought”.

Recent Clients

  • Argosy Collegiate Charter High School (Fall River, MA)
  • University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
  • Math for America (New York, NY)
  • University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
  • Qore Insights Community of Practice (a free online resource and networking space for teachers)
  • Waterbury School District (Waterbury, CT)

reviews and comments

“Throughout all sessions, I felt incredibly seen & heard, not only when sharing challenges or highlights, but also when discussing & brainstorming, especially when there is a need for background knowledge we have been afforded that opportunity.”

“I felt like the presenter was very educated and made me think different about different approaches to teaching math.”

“In 2 sessions, my coteacher and I walk away with techniques to transfer the class to the students. I went from being a talking head to a facilitator. I am hopeful that test scores will reflect up due to increase work completion.”

“I have felt motivated to return to my passions & roots from studying pedagogy. Loving returning to inquiry-based teaching, even in a content I am not well-versed in.”

“After this workshop, we as a whole I think have acknowledge the trauma and I am back to taking steps as an ‘actual’ math teacher. I am looking to be creative and engage with my students in new ways that motivate them.”

“I am really focusing on transferring power and control to my students. We have seen with the transfer of power and control a strong increase if in-class work completion. Thank you so much.”