This week we talk to Dr. Pamela Seda, an educator for over 30 years with a passion for changing how students experience mathematics learning. Dr. Seda has spent years focused on helping mathematics learning become a positive experience for all students; one where students see mathematics as a tool to reason, analyze, communicate and open doors for opportunity. She is currently the K-12 Mathematics District Coordinator for Griffin Spalding County Schools in Georgia (outside of Atlanta) and the owner of Seda Educational Consulting(currently her side gig, as she is focused on improving mathematics education within her school district).
Dr. Seda received her doctorate from Georgia State University in Mathematics Education, where her dissertation helped create the framework explored in the episode: The I.C.U.C.A.R.E Framework for teaching mathematics to open doors for all students. On the podcast, she discusses how she adapted a framework from a multi-cultural teacher education program for a mathematics classroom. She explains the dissertation work and research results that led to her framework, which she now uses to help support mathematics teachers and districts throughout the country. The framework is a lens to look at your math instruction so that you can have more equitable outcomes for all your students.
Dr. Seda explains the 7 parts of her I.C.U.C.A.R.E framework, which represent the seven principles for equity pedagogy:
Include others as experts
(be) Critically Conscious
Understand your students well
(use) Culturally relevant curricula
Assess, Active and build on prior knowledge
Dr. Seda explores each of the 7 principles in-depth with us and shares both examples and stories of how these principles promote the learning and teaching of mathematics from an equitable approach. Some of the themes that emerged in our conversation were understanding your students, allowing students to be ‘experts’, and building an environment so that students are free to learn on their own and discover mathematics.
Some of the most powerful moments in the interview are where Dr. Seda shares stories that focus on challenges in and to education such as stereotypes, and how these impact how we teach, our assumptions about students, and how students' learning/impression of mathematics is impacted by this. She offers suggestions for teachers on how to change and become aware of their own assumptions and behaviors in an effort to help students - i.e. being critically conscious. You have to commit to making changes and rely on your students and colleagues to help you become better teachers.
So how do you work and become a culturally responsive teacher while working within a prescribed curriculum and pacing? It’s about taking baby-steps towards change as we work to make things more inclusive and culturally relevant for students. We explore ways to provide students more ownership of their learning, and why this is crucial, especially when a student seems unwilling to change from a passive learning experience (one often ingrained from years of sitting and listening, versus actively engaging in learning). Dr. Seda explains the importance of the student version of the I.C.U.C.A.R.E framework to help students realize their role in the learning process. She talks about how we need to change how we teach so we do not force students in a single direction, but allow them to discover their own path and direction in route to the destination. By building mathematics on their own understanding of the concepts we allow learning to happen without being ‘overly directive’. This midset is crucial to creating that learning culture in your classroom.
We also touch on strategies and support for teaching and learning during remote teaching (i.e. in the time of COVID). How do you use pedagogical practices in the online environment to still engage students? There are several resources and topics mentioned throughout the podcast episode. The links to these are provided below.