I am an educator. I am a learner. I am a white woman. I am a mathematician. These identities are a central part of my professional and personal life and they influence how I approach my work. I started my career in education as a high school mathematics teacher. My work has progressed over the last 20+ years to working with students, teachers, and teacher candidates of all grades and in all kinds of university and PK-12 classrooms.
My broader scholarship interests include analyzing equitable, justice-oriented mathematics teaching practices and understanding students’ perspectives on their own learning. I seek to investigate practices that support classes to move toward equitable teaching and learning outcomes, including teaching practices that support the development of student discourse, equity, and that attend to classroom status. My research methods entail collecting and analyzing data, including: (a) video and audio recordings, (b) interviews, (c) classroom artifacts, and (d) curricula. I utilize qualitative methods to analyze data across contexts and timescales in order to understand how interactions support learning.
In my teaching, I model equity-oriented, discourse-based, status-aware practices, which have been shown to dismantle typically narrow patterns of success in many classrooms (e.g., Dunleavy, 2015; Dunleavy, 2018). The strands of my work include: (1) dismantling racism and white supremacy in education, (2) dismantling hierarchies while implementing justice-oriented partnerships, and (3) interrogating mathematical smartness.
1: Dismantling Racism and White Supremacy in Education
I hope for students, teachers, school administrators, and university faculty to make sense of how power and dominant-cultural practices have overtaken not only what kinds of mathematics gets taught in schools, but to whom and how rigorous mathematics content is taught. As a teacher educator, I support stakeholders to grow their thinking around what it means to be educators who care about striving toward equity and justice. I work with students, teachers, school personnel, and colleagues to unpack and critique empirical research and theories related to equitable teaching and learning, in order to move forward practices that dismantle existing systems of oppression. I intentionally name existing systemic inequities, including but not limited to race, racism, white supremacy, gender identity, socioeconomic class, and linguistic diversity.
2: Dismantling Hierarchies while Building Justice-Oriented Partnerships
I center my work around building partnerships with school stakeholders, including: (a) university faculty, (b) school administrators, mentor teachers, and partner teachers, (c) alumni teachers; and (d) university students. Across these partnerships, I work to advance equity and to dismantle the systemic oppressions that are obstacles for too many students, particularly for students from historically marginalized and minoritized backgrounds. Recognizing my own story as a public-school graduate from a single-parent family with a complicated background is central to my work as an educator– In part, my background has fueled my hope to understand everyone’s unique story and to celebrate each individual’s gifts. I hope for my scholarship to push the boundaries for what justice-oriented mathematics education can look like. I intertwine teaching and service by building partnerships across education professionals as I recruit and engage participants to work together across university professors, graduate and undergraduate students, school administrators, and elementary and secondary teachers.
3: Interrogating Mathematical Smartness
Across my work, I identify most closely with the field of mathematics– A content laden with problematic conceptions of who can participate. In reality, we are all mathematicians with creative ways of seeing the world– whether we know it yet, or not. I work with folks to interrogate how they perceive smartness in mathematics, and therefore, how they offer access to doing mathematics. Whether it is based on designing open-ended, high-level tasks that offer multiple entry points, or repositioning students with an asset-orientation, each teaching move points toward interrogating and reframing the systems of smartness that prevent access for the majority of students.
I place critical thinking, justification, problem solving, interaction, and creativity as the cornerstones for how smartness is reconstructed in classrooms (Dunleavy, 2018). Fostering mathematical smartness involves justice-oriented partnerships between students and teachers in order for them to engage in rich problem solving with one another (Dunleavy & Joseph, under review). To that end, I teach how reframing smartness can offer access to students, require individuals to use one another while working on problems, afford multiple solution paths, incorporate creativity, and feature opportunities for all students to engage as learners, and in particular, as mathematicians.
Across my work– I center learners’ humanity in order to model and teach change in how we make sense of education’s role in society.