Breaking the Struggle Stigma
Play • 31 min

In this episode of Room to Grow, Curtis and Joanie welcome Juliana Tapper, Math Intervention Specialist and Founder of CollaboratEd Consulting.

We start by apologizing for mispronouncing Juliana’s last name when she is introduced at the start of the podcast! Please note that her last name is Tapper, rather than Trapper. We are so sorry, Juliana!

Juliana brings her experience teaching and supporting middle and high school math teachers and math interventionists to help us consider ways to break what she calls the “struggle stigma” in math class. She grounds our conversation with powerful results from research around math anxiety, which suggest that math anxiety activates the same fear centers in the brain as seeing a snake! When teachers use this understanding, we can create more effective responses to students who are experiencing math anxiety in our classes.

Along with Juliana, your hosts discuss the importance of establishing a classroom culture that makes space all the “mathematical baggage” that students might bring with them. Providing the opportunity to talk about past experiences, positive and negative, allows students to understand that our classroom is a safe and welcoming place, where struggle becomes a normal and expected part of the learning process. Juliana has some practical tips for using instructional protocols with no math to build that classroom culture. She also shares how she established participation as an expectation rather than an option, and how those expectations along with appropriate scaffolds create small successes for students to build on.

We know you’ll walk away with some great ideas that will help you better reach more students in your classroom.

We encourage you to explore these resources, mentioned and referenced in this episode:

Did you enjoy this episode of Room to Grow? Please leave a review and share the episode with others. Share your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episode topics by emailing Be sure to connect with your hosts on Twitter and Instagram: @JoanieFun and @cbmathguy. 

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