Roberto Germán 0:00
Welcome to our classroom in this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto Germán and Our Classroom is officially in session. Start Here, Start Now by Liz Kleinrock is a practical guide to anti-bias and anti-racist work in schools. It implements social justice work while building traditional literacy skills at the same time. There is 'no one and done' lesson or book when it comes to social justice and culturally reflective teaching. This book is meant to help educators break habits that are holding them back from this work, as well as build positive, sustainable teaching for the future. Learn more and purchase Start Here, Start Now at Heinemann.com. Yes, indeed, we're back for part three, Mathin' It Up featuring Kwame Sarfo-Mensah. 15-year veteran urban educator, and the founder and CEO of Identity Talk Consulting, LLC an independent educational consulting firm. Kwame is also the author of two books: "Shaping the Teacher Identity: 8 Lessons That Will Help Redefine the Teacher in You" and "From Inaction to Action: Creating a New Normal for Urban Educators".
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 2:03
So just to recap we are talking about the counter narrative. So showing students different mathematicians and different, you know, in our films and movies and real life, inviting them to speak with our classes, they're everywhere, right? That's one. Number two, we talked about incorporating the linguistic identities of students within the math curriculum. So, if you speak Spanish, understand that there are cognates that tie to math terms. There are live cognates in Spanish, as you already know.
Roberto Germán 2:40
We thought about it in terms of connecting it to math.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 2:45
Well, yeah, because here's the thing, if you have an immersion bilingual in your classroom, and let's say that they haven't acquired a whole lot of English like they just arrived here in the country. You have to allow them to use Spanish. You got to engage in some translanguaging. So you may have to mix in some English. You may have to do some Spanglish here and there, just so that they understand that, Hey, just because you're learning English doesn't mean that you have to stop speaking Spanish. So that means I need to go on Google Translate to figure out how we can communicate with each other, which is something that I've done in the past. Now I'm not saying that Google Translate is the end-all-be-all, and it's perfect in their translations, but you know what—
Roberto Germán 3:32
It, you know, it's gotten better. It helps you get to at least the baseline level of the communication that's necessary to help the emerging bilingual learner at least feel like, all right, not only are-- am I somewhat understanding you but you're somewhat understanding me. And yes, I'm trying to learn this English, but I see the effort that you're making in this case, we're talking about Spanish, you know, giving me some of those words in Spanish that I understand that can, you know, help me stay with you. Right? Stay engaged. Because again, going back to what I said initially in terms of like, you know, the struggle as being, you know, with confidence in math...
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 4:24
Roberto Germán 4:25
You have to be able to comprehend what's going on. Right? And as you stated, that's our job.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 4:34
It's our job. It is our job.
Roberto Germán 4:37
You gave me an idea to explore for the next time that we get together.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 4:43
Roberto Germán 4:44
Next time I wanna have a conversation about math and films.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 4:52
Roberto Germán 4:55
Yeah. Math and films. I wanna talk about, alright, what movies come to mind? What are some movies that we could offer teachers as resources that could be brought into the math classroom that can reinforce certain math concepts while also giving us greater visibility, right? Giving folks of color greater visibility. Next time we get together, that's gonna be the topic.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 5:25
I'll give you a short answer to that right now. It's slim pickings when it comes to math films that have us as the main protagonist. I can think of a couple off the top of my head. But once you get past those few is slim pickings, so obviously people are gonna say "Hidden Figures." That's the first one you gonna say. There's another movie that's called "Stand and Deliver."
Roberto Germán 5:51
Yes. Yes. Old school.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 5:52
Roberto Germán 5:55
Oh yes. That's a classic.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 5:57
Jaime Escalante. So for my, you know, for my, you know, Latina brothers and sisters, that's something, right? My Chicanos, my Chicano. Like that's a movie that I actually enjoy watching. Now has it been romaticized, yes. But you know what? He talks about math. He lets them know that, Yo, you can do this. And then another movie that has some math in it, "Jingle Jangle."
Roberto Germán 6:19
Yo, that's one of my favorite movies. I enjoy it more than my kids.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 6:23
Yeah. So those are three movies that incorporate math, but they're led by black and brown people. The main characters. Outside those three, it'll be hard to find some other ones that are focused on-- that have that profile. But I'm sure if we look hard enough we may find some more. You could actually bring somebody in to talk to the kids about how math and science are incorporated into filmmaking. 'Cause people think, oh, filmmaking, that's something that you do like-- that's more of an artsy type of thing. But there's math involved in that. There's so many opportunities out there. That's all I could say.
Roberto Germán 7:02
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 7:03
We have to just think outside the box.
Roberto Germán 7:05
Well, I wanna respect your time and also just give you an opportunity to share with us. For those that are on the platform now, and you may be new to them, where can they follow you? 'Cause I know you got multiple platforms, you're doing some amazing things. Where can folks follow you?
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 7:31
Well, if you wanna just learn everything that I'm doing, you could follow me on my company's website identitytalk4educators.com. So named my company Identity Talk Consulting. Where our motto is to stay true to the teacher and you. So through that, I provide professional development and consulting to educators, schools, colleges, and universities that have teacher training programs. And it's all about helping teachers be authentically who they are and to remain authentic in what they do in and out of the classroom. That's the primary goal of everything that we do. And you'll also find all of our podcast housed in that website. You'll learn about our services. So that's just a great starting point. But in terms of social media, my main social media home is Instagram. So you can follow me right here on @kwam_the_identity_shaper y'all can see that right there on the screen. And since we're talking about math, make sure y'all check out radical math talk where I interview different math educators and math professionals who are doing some transformative things to bring diversity, equity, but also inclusion in the spaces that they're in professionally. We're about 15 episodes in so it's still fairly new. So if you've someone who has a math class and you want to expose them to different math professionals, particularly those who are black and brown like us two, that's the podcast you wanna go to. So Radical Math Talk is on all streaming platforms. You could find it on YouTube, you can find it on Apple Podcast, everywhere you listen to your podcast.
Roberto Germán 9:41
There you have it folks make sure you follow Kwame at all those platforms, Identity Shaper, Radical Math Talk. He mentioned a website. Give this brother the support that he merits because he is doing work that impacts not just our communities, but all communities. 'Cause this stuff is good for everybody, all of the young people and all of us educators. And so thank you. Thank you, my brother. What's the message of encouragement that you wanna offer to people?
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 10:17
Well, since we're in the midst of this great resignation and we have live teachers who are contemplating leaving the classroom and for some of us leaving the profession for good. I would just say-- I would just remind those folks to remember that you could still have an impact even when you're not inside the four walls of your classroom. That's just number one. That's a lesson that I've had to learn. I'm still continuing to learn as we speak. You know, three years removed from a K-12 classroom, still learning that lesson. And it's something that we need to continue to share with our fellow educators is that, Hey, you can still continue to be an educator even though you're not in the brick and mortar classroom, you can still have that same impact. It's just gonna look different. So that's my word of advice.
Roberto Germán 11:16
And that aligns with what this whole podcast is about. Education is taking place, not just within the four walls of the school house, right? It's happening whenever and wherever we're willing to learn. Hey brother, I appreciate you. Man, it's great to connect. We gonna do this again. Next time, hopefully, we're both gonna bring some more movies that we could reference that center around math. I really am encouraged by the work that you're doing and the example that you are setting and the way you representing us black brothers out there just doing it right, doing it with integrity, and bringing great energy to this work that we engage in making a difference. And I know you're working on the next book, so salute to you.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 12:20
Roberto Germán 12:21
Looking forward to it once it's ready. Gotta have you on the platform to talk about the book.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 12:26
I appreciate it, Roberto. Appreciate it. Send my love to Lorena and your family.
Roberto Germán 12:31
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah 12:32
Always love when we're connecting like this. It's always love.
Roberto Germán 12:37
Yes, sir. All right. Thank you again. Be blessed. Until next time. As always, your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education, and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your host Roberto Germán.