S2 EP5: Rights of the Learner - Rehumanizing Classrooms with Olga G. Torres

Updated: Mar 17



Olga G. Torres has been a bilingual elementary educator for over 40 years and a mathematics educator for over 25 years. She works as a Mathematics Education Consultant with the Marilyn Burns Education Associates/Math Solutions. Olga has been the recipient of many awards, including the 1995 Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education. She is a teacher leader for CEMAL (Center for Mathematics Education of Latino/as), where she works with Dr. Marta Civil at the University of Arizona.


Karen worked with Olga last summer on an Equity in Education Webinar, in partnership with Casio Education and TODOS Math for All, where Olga shared her “Rights of the Learner” framework and talked about rehumanizing the math classroom, so though it would be a wonderful experience to have Olga join us and share more about her framework and her diverse teaching experiences that support equity in education.


Rehumanizing the classroom defined by Olga. She talks about how it’s important to convince students that they are capable of anything. That as teachers we need to support them in this belief. This requires constant vigilance - being in a state of discovery all the time and always looking for the human element, and interacting, watching, observing, and questioning and never losing sight of the humans around you (the students) and the specialness of each.


Olga shares her personal teaching experiences and how these experiences influenced her perspective on what students need and how teaching should include the Rights of the Learner. She talks about what classrooms look like that are and are not focused on rehumanizing. Humanized classrooms are active, their curriculum is engaging, connected, and made relevant to the students.


What's inside the episode

  • Strategies to help create this rehumanized way of learning, and how to help change, as a teacher, in spite of obstacles or constrained environments.

  • How creating a culture of interactivity and acknowledging the students' thinking and knowledge makes a difference in how students see themselves, and ultimately how they learn.

  • Insight into how teachers, through sharing their own story, can fight against the programmed curriculum and build their own confidence in teaching from a problem-solving approach, not a process approach.

  • Why teachers must be agents of change, fight against the ‘fixed-mindset’ of our current education system & change to a ‘growth-mindset’, which includes working with administrators, parents, and community.

After this episode, you will believe that “Mistakes are a CELEBRATION!!!”


Resources Mentioned:

  1. Equity in Education Webinar: Rehumanizing Schools - Rights of the Learner (Olga’s Webinar)

  2. Casio Education

  3. TODOS Mathematics for All Organization

  4. Rights of the Learner: An Introduction (article)

  5. Einstein Quote #1

  6. Einstein Quote #2

  7. Developing a Growth Mindset in Education

  8. Carol Dwek and Fixed/Growth Mindset in Teachers

  9. Rights of the Learner Framework (©Olga Torres 2006)



  1. Einstein Quote About Mistakes

  2. Mistakes Grow Your Brain - Jo Boaler

  3. How Emotions Affect Learning

  4. Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions

  5. Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions (book)

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