What power and authority do we wield in the world?

Community/Public Relations Icon

Lara Jasien,
Nashville, TN

Stephanie Castaneda,
Round Rock, TX,

Rhonda Pierre,
Indianapolis, IN

Brianna Ruiz
Sacramento, CA

Jocelyn Dunnack,
Columbia, CT

Danielle Boggs,
Champaign, IL

Previously, we wrote about our experiences leading a book study on Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum. The purpose of the book study was to help CPM employees (1) develop a shared vocabulary that we can use in our discussions about race and racism, (2) better understand ourselves so we can better understand each other, and (3) to challenge ourselves to understand better how our own implicit biases impact our ability to follow the CPM Equity Principles

We know that what we do as CPM employees impacts what CPM offers teachers, and so it also impacts what teachers offer their students. We do have some power and authority in the world, and as an educator, you do too.

We all are up against systemic problems that are too big for one person to address, so we want you to know you are not alone in this work to change the status quo. Here, we will share a bit about what we learned as facilitators of this book study, including our successes, frustrations, and failures.


Some participants are now more willing to have difficult conversations about race with their families and colleagues. For example:

  • “I am willing and ready to have conversations with my children and others when racial topics come up versus avoiding them.”
  • “I feel empowered to address behaviors and/or statements that generalize a specific group of color.”

Other participants learned about how their racial identities impact their lives and have decided to continue exploring this. For example:

  • “I have a better understanding of my own white privilege.”
  • “I’ve started a small book study/affinity group of my own to explore my own racial identity.”

Others have a new lens on the racial dimension of school and classroom life after confronting some of their own previously unrecognized implicit biases. For example:

  • “I observe classrooms differently and am able to ask the question when some students are treated differently.”
  • “Before, when I would see a loud group of Black boys in the hallway, I would make assumptions about their intentions, such as to disrupt, tease, avoid class, etc. Now, because of reading about racial identity through adolescence and teenage years, I know their intent is to feel a sense of belonging and closeness with one another.”

Many of us exposed problematic ideas and learned by making these ideas public. Examples included:

  • Statements that supported colorblind racism
  • Statements that uncovered a person’s implicit bias
  • Statements or gestures that essentialized particular cultures


1sentialize definition: Verb, gerund, or present participle: essentializing. (a) Characterize (a quality or trait) as fundamental or intrinsi Esc to a particular type of person or thing, “this approach is controversial because it could essentialize the ‘peaceful’ nature of women”; (b) portray or explain (a particular type of person or

  • Failing to say something immediately when we heard the above problematic statements (this one is particularly on us as book study facilitators)

Collective reflection on these uncomfortable moments provided the most significant learning opportunities of the book study. We value that the conversation allowed the above problematic ideas to be expressed so that we could address them explicitly.


If you plan to facilitate a book study on race with your colleagues, it is important to consider the racial make-up of the participants. For example, as facilitators, we pushed our predominantly white participants to prioritize impact over intent when offensive statements were made — even unintentionally affirming problematic ideas results in perpetuating those ideas and further marginalizes the ones who are offended.

Also, it was difficult to balance making time to share personal and professional connections to the book and also develop an action plan. Still, some participants felt ready to put what they learned into action: one participant shared they must do better now that they know better, and another questioned whether they were having meaningful enough conversations about race with their children. No change is too small in our attempts to change the status quo.


We would have liked to have a meaningful collective professional action plan as an outcome of the book study. If you conduct a book study, we recommend a backward planning approach to ensure all participants leave with an action plan that aligns with their roles and responsibilities.


We encourage you if at all possible, to facilitate a similar book study and to be sure to have multiple perspectives in book studies on racism. Why? This experience led us to grow individually and bonded us personally and professionally. In the words of the author, B.D. Tatum:

Our ongoing examination of who we are in our full humanity, embracing all of our identities, creates the possibility of building alliances that may ultimately free us all. (Tatum, 2017, pp. 134-135, Kindle Edition)

While we cannot guarantee that everyone in our facilitator group or the larger book study walked away with a shared understanding of racism, we do know that we now have a shared experience to draw on in our relationships and work together. This book study is a resource for us to hold each other accountable for understanding that we are not powerless.

thing) in terms of one or more stereotypical or supposedly intrinsic traits, “nineties culture, over time, has been essentialized into a few symbols” (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

This article is the second in a series of three articles that will share experiences and outcomes of this book study. We hope you look forward to the last article where we share our next steps and potential action items. If you would like to contact us for more information, please fill out this form, and we will get back to you: https://forms.gle/rbaFxW6mzQwRQfUM7.

You are now leaving cpmstg.wpengine.com.

Did you want to leave cpmstg.wpengine.com?

I want to leave cpmstg.wpengine.com.

No, I want to stay on cpmstg.wpengine.com

Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

Edit Content

Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.