As you refine and reflect on remote learning, we encourage you and the teachers you work with to consider students’ mathematical identities and the potential impacts and opportunities related to them. Students’ mathematical identities drive how they engage with mathematics and how they interpret their mathematical experiences. In addition to one’s belief about their ability to do (or not to be able to do) mathematics, it also includes ideas such as which people (genders, races, etc.) are expected to do well at mathematics, and what kinds of behaviors (for example, speed) are valued when doing mathematics.

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When an early elementary student can recite all of the single-digit multiplication facts, a typical response is, “Wow, that kid is really good at math!” I was that student. I could finish the two-minute multiplication fact exercises with time to spare, and I could recite formulas within hours of seeing them the first time. I could also (almost) flawlessly reproduce any algorithm our teacher showed us in class that day. It was in college that I learned that memorizing all these facts, formulas, definitions, algorithms, and more is not all that is involved in mathematics. It was a hard lesson. I realized that even though I was good at memorization, I had to do more than that to do the mathematics I was now facing. Even then, memorization and recall of information played a huge role.