Author Archives: Elizabeth Gamino

Narrowing the Achievement Gap and Opening New Doors

While on a phone conversation earlier last week I was asked the question “How do you ensure equity and access in mathematics instruction?”  Though I had thought about this issue (equity and access) for a long time, dating back to when I taught ESL NewComer classes in the early 90’s and now in 2018 (almost 30 years later), I still really don’t know the best way to broach this question. To be honest with you all, the truth is not every child is being provided with the significant resources nor the right conditions for success. So many educational disparities still exist, particularly for children of color and those who live in poverty.

In the early 90’s I taught a NewComers program, in which we had Hmong, Mixtec, Laotian, Russian and Mexican children who had recently arrived in Fresno, who spoke little, to no English.  Our charge was to help them develop language so that they could be successful in school and life. We were doing phenomenal work at the time, but these children were with us for just a part of the day, there was no way we could ensure they were receiving the same quality of education within their classrooms.  Our goals of keeping these children at the forefront, recognizing each one for who they were as individuals, honoring what they could do in their primary language and scaffolding English onto that, connecting their parents with community agencies and providing training on how they (parents) could better support their child’s education and help them navigate the educational system, but was that enough?

Because I was asked the question “How do you ensure equity and access in mathematics instruction?” I was reminded of how biases can hinder ensuring that all children receive access to high-quality instruction. For this reason, it is critical to acknowledge our biases and see past them. To look beyond physical features, language, socio-economic status, parent’s education and consider the children in front of you like they were your own. What type of quality education do you wish for your child?  Secondly, I was reminded of how the word “fair” which defined means “In accordance with rules or standards” is used in phrases such as “I treat my children fairly.” As a professor stated in a lecture one day, “Fair is giving someone something they need when they need it – imagine you have a heart attack right now here in class, and because I wanted to be fair I performed CPR on another classmate, would you want me to be fair?” His point was sometimes to be fair (equitable) we need to think beyond a one size fits all model, there are multiple ways to provide children with access to the core.

So, as I come to an end of this blog, I ask you to consider equity and access as you plan and engage with your students and I encourage you to be flexible, recognize and embrace differences and entrust that all children can and are eager to learn and that all parents send their best!


Let Me Play

As many of you know for the last year, I have had the privilege of working with preschool-aged children on a weekly basis, watching them, interacting with them, and listening to them as they engaged in mathematical and other content daily.  As I reflect on my year spent with seventy-seven little ones, I am overcome… Continue Reading

Math Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month? If not, you’re not alone. Much to my surprise, when I polled my friends, some of whom are math teachers, they didn’t know either. But they definitely knew about Read Across America Day on March 2nd. Why is that? Why is it that everything… Continue Reading

In Their Voice (Part 4)

Angelina Parades is the teacher of a 3-year-old class at Head Start in the Central Valley of California. She began her career in early learning education as a high school senior 11 years ago. She is dedicated to the parents and children whom she serves and is passionate about the work she does. Her dedication… Continue Reading

Changing the Narrative

Many times, we hear phrases from teachers and students such as “I am not good at math.” “Math was (is) a very hard subject for me.” It has become socially acceptable to say, “I hate math!” Why do some people have these limiting beliefs of themselves as doers or learners of mathematics? For the past… Continue Reading

The Gift of Play

“When you ask me what I did in school today and I say, ‘I just played,’ please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. Today I am a child and my work is play.” – Anita Wadley, 1974. The… Continue Reading

Quotes to Spark Conversations

In early September AIMS had the honor of hosting a breakfast for the teachers we are working with this year. It was a time to come together, form friendships, share our goals for the year, and, of course, engage in some mathematics. As an ice-breaker we had the teachers engage in an activity called “Chalk… Continue Reading

Thinking About Children’s Thinking

Over the last month, for the start of the school year, my AIMS Center colleagues and I have had the privilege of working with teachers and observing the interactions of 3- and 4-year-old children, something our team has done for the last two years. As we observe these little ones, we have learned how to… Continue Reading