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NW Regional Conference

Secondary mathematics education students from the Pullman and Vancouver campuses attended the 60th Annual Northwest Regional Mathematics Conference in October 2021. The students were enrolled in Math 330, Methods of Teaching Secondary Mathematics, taught by Kristin Lesseig, an associate professor of mathematics education at WSU Vancouver in the College of Education.

The annual conference usually rotates between locations in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This last year it was scheduled to be held in Vancouver, BC, but was switched online because of the pandemic. The conference registration fees were covered by funding from a faculty seed grant secured by William Hall, assistant professor of mathematics education in the department.

Students were able to choose which sessions they wanted to attend and were expected to write about their general and specific experiences. “After the conference, students shared their key takeaways and learning from the conference. Students were also required to individually reflect on the experience,” Lesseig said. Students were asked to consider the questions: How did this experience impact you as a preservice teacher? How did it impact you as a learner/future teacher/person/etc.? “All students reported it as a very positive experience and were able to make key connections to course readings and discussions,” Lesseig added.

Information on the conference may be found at: www.bcamt.ca/nw2021/.

Excerpts from written reflections reveal the impression the experience had on the students:

“I thought it was really cool to see that things we were discussing in my classes really do show up in the classroom when I am a teacher. I think the absolute biggest thing I am walking away from this conference with is my idea of social justice in the math classroom.”

“I really enjoyed this conference. I enjoyed hearing about different ideas and perspectives on what is important in mathematics in today’s world. Most of the conference reinforced ideas that I learned in the classroom.... I think everything I learned in the conference will help me become a better teacher, person, and even parent. The lesson plans I watched and listened to helped reinforce ideas that were brought up in class, like how to patiently encourage student discourse and how to use different perspectives to lead that discourse. I also learned that I know even less about the difficulty of executing ideas into an actual classroom. I think I have a better idea of how to make a flexible lesson plan, something that I now think should be part of every building of any lesson plan. Overall, this conference gave me a peek about what kind of lessons might work for my future classroom and how I will implement those lessons.”

“Overall this talk (keynote by Francis Su – author of Mathematics for Human Flourishing) tied in well with our class so far and I was able to take away new ideas on how to create interesting problems to bring joy and wonder into the math class. Overall the conference was a huge learning opportunity while simultaneously being inspiring and engaging. Previous to this conference I was feeling a bit burnt out and slightly unmotivated. However, getting to hear from Francis reminded me of why I chose math and why it’s fun again.”

“I really enjoyed listening to Nikki Lineham; she had a great talk about what culturally responsive teaching is, why it’s important, what it looks like, and how we can incorporate it into our classrooms. I also appreciated her acknowledging how we can have a narrow vision but we can widen our scope by listening to our students’ cultural experiences. It is something that isn’t talked about often in math classes, but I love that we are doing so now. She gave so many good examples of how to include everyone in number talks that I have written down to use in the future. Now I have extra resources to look into for this and more. Her talk felt so well researched, but what I loved the most was that she really seemed passionate about what she spoke about and it made me all the more excited and motivated to be a better teacher.”

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