Season 3, Episode 5

Developing an asset orientation with Lani Horn

In this episode, math education professor Lani Horn shares with us what it means to have an asset orientation towards students, contrasting it with a deficit orientation, and helping Bethany and Dan understand the many ways students experience one or the other. Their conversation hit both high notes and low notes and included a challenge that Bethany and Dan both found extremely valuable for helping a teacher develop an asset orientation towards their students.

Meet our guest(s):

Lani Horn

Lani Horn centers her research on ways to make authentic mathematics accessible to students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized by our educational system. Professor Horn focuses primarily on mathematics teaching in two ways. First, Professor Horn looks at classroom practices that engage the most students in high-quality mathematics. Second, Professor Horn views teaching as a contextually-embedded practice – how school environments, communities, colleagues, and policies shape what is instructionally possible. All of this is unified through a pursuit to understand teacher learning as a situative phenomenon.

Meet our hosts: Bethany Lockhart Johnson and Dan Meyer

Bethany Lockhart Johnson is an elementary school educator and author. Prior to serving as a multiple-subject teacher, she taught theater and dance, and now loves incorporating movement and creative play into her classroom. Bethany is committed to helping students find joy in discovering their identities as mathematicians. In addition to her role as a full-time classroom teacher, Bethany is a Student Achievement Partners California Core Advocate and is active in national and local mathematics organizations. Bethany is a member of the Illustrative Mathematics Elementary Curriculum Steering Committee and serves as a consultant, creating materials to support families during distance learning.

Dan Meyer taught high school math to students who didn’t like high school math. He has advocated for better math instruction on CNN, Good Morning America, Everyday With Rachel Ray, and He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in math education and is currently the Dean of Research at Desmos, where he explores the future of math, technology, and learning. Dan has worked with teachers internationally and in all 50 United States and was named one of Tech & Learning’s 30 Leaders of the Future.

Transcripts and additional resources

Show notes:


“An asset orientation is looking for students' strengths and trying to work from those strengths as a basis for your teaching. ” —Lani Horn