A Call to Adult Numeracy/HSE Math Teachers: Let’s Build Community (and Practice) Together

On the evening of April 4th (the second night of the 2017 COABE1 conference), some 30-40 adult educators from around the country came together after a long day of workshops for some extracurricular inspiration in math – a new Adult Numeracy Network (ANN)2 event called ANN Under 10. 

The idea is simple. Adult numeracy teachers give a brief talk, each under 10 minutes. Each speaker tells a story and asks a question that is driving their teaching practice. Some may pose a question they have been working on for years, some may share something they’ve been working on for only a few months. But the questions they share with us are invitations to collaborate.

The goal of ANN under 10 is for teachers to continue to work on the ideas inspired by the talks. The talks themselves are wonderful, but the real work is what happens in the classrooms and practice of the teachers who watch them. In addition to raising questions, each talk ends with a specific call-to-action. For the talks that resonate with you, answer the call-to-action and report back on what happens. The talks were recorded and posted online to allow even more adult educators to participate. We set up a simple platform to allow teachers to watch the videos and to communicate with each other.

Each of those talks is a first step in a discussion about improving the math education of our amazing students:

  • Lindsey Cermak (@CermakLindsey), is from the Minnesota Literacy Council and the Open-Door Learning Center-Northside. In a talk called Taking the Pressure off to Take the Pressure Off, Lindsey shares a personal revelation. She sees pressure crippling her students and realized in trying to be a perfect teacher, she adds to that pressure. Drawing a distinction between perfection and excellence, Lindsey asks us to join her and consider our own practice. She invites us to model authentic success and failure in our classrooms, and asks us to be courageous and more vulnerable with our students. Click on her picture below to watch her talk:

  • Cynthia Bell, of the NY Literacy Assistance Center, gave a talk titled Formative Assessment and What’s Next, where she talked about her own developing work on both how to draw out and how to use student understanding in her teaching. Cynthia suggests that we are students of our students’ thinking and asks that we collect information and use that information to adjust our instruction. Let’s talk about how to get student feedback as we teach, how to act on what we learn and how to make sure the adjustments we make are producing the outcomes we’re looking for. Click on her picture below to watch her talk:

  • In What Counts? The Tyranny of HSE Testing, Charlie Brover and Solange Farina (@StregaSol), and their collective 60+ years of adult numeracy instruction, spoke about the effect the Common-Core aligned assessments have had on our students and our field. They make the case for not ceding our classrooms to the publishers and test-makers and help our students develop the math they need to be empowered members of our society. Click on the picture below to watch their talk:

  • In Crowdsourcing Curriculum, Eric Appleton (@eappleton) of the CUNY Adult Literacy and HSE Program in NYC shared his strategy for getting off the island of isolation where so many of us find ourselves teaching. Eric shares his own developing (and inspiring) practice of few simple steps for collaborating with other teachers to build and improve our lessons. Click on his picture below to watch his talk:

The five teachers who spoke at the first ANN under 10 stepped out and shared something with us… it is up to us to respond to them, to share our successes and our challenges as we answer their calls-to-action. Let’s use their curiosity and vision to strengthen the network of our national adult numeracy and HSE math teaching community and engage in discussions about some of the core questions at the heart of our work.

Follow the link above to watch the videos and post your comments for each specific talk. The speakers will read your comments, as will other adult numeracy and HSE teachers. Use the space for comments to ask questions, get feedback, share your experiences, celebrate your students. Adult numeracy teachers on Twitter can also respond to the calls-to-action by using the hashtag #ANNunder10.

Join the conversation!


Coalition for Adult Basic Education (COABE)

2 The Adult Numeracy Network (ANN) is a national community of adult education math practitioners dedicated to quality mathematics instruction at the adult level. ANN encourages collaboration and leadership, and influences policy and practice in adult math instruction. Among other supports, ANN funds Practitioner Research projects and publishes a newsletter called The Math Practitioner, where teachers share what they do in their classrooms to help students learn mathematics as well as their “aha” moments as adult education instructors. You are encouraged to submit articles, activities, and other items of interest related to math for adult learners for consideration for our newsletter. Please direct all correspondence regarding The Math Practitioner to: Patricia Helmuth, mathpractitioner@gmail.com.

To find out more (and to join ANN), please visit the Adult Numeracy Network website.

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About Mark Trushkowsky

Mark enjoys doing math problems that take weeks, family sing-a-longs and reading late into the night. At 16, he believed the next revolution would be waged through poetry. Now he believes it is adult basic education. But he still likes poetry. Mark has worked in adult literacy and HSE since 2001. He is a founding member of the NYC Community of Adult Math Instructors (CAMI). He was born and raised in Brooklyn where he lives happily ever after with his partner Sarah and their daughter Liv. Follow me on Twitter (@mtrushkowsky)

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