Author Archives: Lori Hamada

Change is Hard!

Last September, the California governor signed Assembly Bill 1732 which adds an article to the Health and Safety Code relating to restrooms in a public building. This bill will, commencing March 1, 2017, require all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. Our facility at The AIMS Center is required to comply with this new code regulation. Ugh… we just completed our renovation and we already have to change. New signs are on the way.

Bathroom Table: Change is HardKnowing that this is happening soon, I purchased white, half-round tables to be put into each of our renovated restrooms. I did not tell anyone, I just did it. In my mind, we needed a place to set a box of Kleenex, some air freshener, etc. This fits well into my understanding of what we need in a restroom. What I did not consider, is that the men in our office might not feel the need for a table. One of our male colleagues told me that the first time he walked into the restroom, he saw the table and quickly backed out thinking that he had inadvertently walked into the women’s restroom. I told him about the new bill that will be changing things up, but he said that he is still having to get used to the change. Change is hard.

A group of us were discussing our charge of translating the research that we have been learning into structures and practices that teachers will embrace. We talked about how hard it will be for some teachers to change and I realized that asking teachers to change the way they teach is very much like the change in our restrooms. Once we repeatedly experience something and establish a pattern, an expectation, or a scheme for how we understand it, it is very difficult to change. Why is that?

I recently read a blog post by Mona Fishbane, PhD, a specialist in interpersonal neurobiology entitled “Why Change Is So Hard: The Power of Habit in the Human Brain”. She reinforces that the more we do something, the more likely we will continue doing that thing. We build our schemes through our experiences and until they are no longer viable we do not see a need to change or modify our scheme. This is why it is so difficult to change. This is why a teacher who has found success (by their own definition) over 15-20 years of teaching is reticent to change the way they teach. Teachers have said for years, “Why mess with something that is working?” The question is, is IT working well enough?

Dr. Fishbane talks about humans being creatures of habit, but she also contends that we are creatures of change and adaptation. “It is empowering to know that we can change bad habits and learn new skills throughout life; we don’t have to be victims of our past or of our genes,” says Dr. Fishbane. “But it’s much harder for the adult brain to change than the child’s brain.” Change is hard. But, when children’s futures are at stake, change is worth it. At the AIMS Center, we believe that the difficulty is worth it! We believe that the children are worth it! And… I really like the new tables…

Student Adaptive Pedagogy

When our Director of Research attended the Psychology of Mathematics Education – North American conference this year along with a couple of our Senior Researchers, they had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ron Tzur from the University of Colorado in Denver.  Like many others that we have now begun communicating with, Dr. Tzur studied with… Continue Reading

What is Changing and What Will Never Change

It is an interesting time in America; there is change all around us.  But, what will never change is the need to educate our children…the need to continue improving the education of our children.  That improvement comes through the hard work of our teachers, improving their skills to improve the experiences of their students. At… Continue Reading


When Dr. Thiessen first discussed his ideas about launching the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education with me, he suggested that our motto should be:      “Know the Math; Know the Science; Know the Research.” And, he said, even more importantly, we can never forget that:      “We believe in children’s knowledge!” I have been working… Continue Reading

2016 – The Ampersand

When Dr. Thiessen recruited me to launch this new Center, he shared with me his vision of collaboration.  He believed, as do I, that we are much stronger together and that this work of knowledge translation was going to be difficult work.  In 2014, the AIMS Education Foundation Board agreed to totally renovate our existing… Continue Reading

The Work of the AIMS Center

I am writing this post from the annual conference of Learning Forward, an organization whose mission it is to “build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning.”   When I became the Mathematics Coordinator at the Fresno County Office of Education in 1998, I turned to this professional organization (then called… Continue Reading

A New Vision

As we have launched the Research Division of the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education we have found that there is extensive financial backing for educational research and there are increasing funds for the professional development of our teachers.  Yet, there appears to be a gaping hole in this continuum – the funding for… Continue Reading

“Coming to Know” in Science…

I recently read an article from Science and Cognitive Development that really piqued my interest ( It started by saying, “Science for young children is all about gaining new knowledge of the world around them; what they can see, hear, smell and touch. Science for young children is also about learning how to learn. It’s… Continue Reading

Algebraic Thinking with Rural Teachers in Florida

This past year, the AIMS Center had the privilege of working with hundreds of rural teachers in the state of Florida.  Our host was actually the Florida and the Islands Comprehensive Center (FLICC), operated by the Educational Testing Service.  We worked with three different consortia, the Heartland Educational Consortium (HEC) in Lake Placid, the North… Continue Reading