Twelve years ago, Alex Kajitani was a struggling new teacher in one of California’s poorest neighborhoods. His middle school students were unmotivated, unengaged and uninterested in the math he was teaching. Demoralized and desperate, he set out on a journey to turn his class, and his life, around.
Today, Alex holds the title of California Teacher of the Year and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year, 2009, and is lauded for his innovation and “real talk” as a teacher and teacher-leader. He’s also known around the country as “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” and his CDs and activity books are being used in homes and classrooms across the country to “make math cool.”
Alex’s journey — from frustrated new teacher to being honored at The White House Rose Garden — is one he now shares with educators across the country, to inspire them to new heights and fresh ways of thinking. From using rap music to teach fractions, to getting past the discomfort of talking about race and ethnicity in his classroom, Alex shares his secrets to meeting students where they live and turning his teaching around.
A tireless and innovative advocate for our schools, Kajitani now speaks across the country to educators of ALL levels and subjects. He delivers powerful keynotes and insightful breakout sessions that are honest and real, and capture the essence of what it means to be a teacher today. Through heart-wrenching stories, thought-provoking ideas and immediately implementable strategies, Alex inspires us all to teach, not only for the world as it is, but for the world as it can be.
A highly sought-after speaker and a top authority on motivating teachers, Alex is the author of two books, including Owning It: Proven Strategies for Success in ALL of Your Roles as a Teacher Today. Just named “Recommended Reading” by the U.S. Department of Education, Owning It has been praised by education guru Dr. Harry K. Wong, as well as teachers and administrators nationwide. Alex also has a popular TED Talk, “Making Math Cool,” and writes a monthly column for teachers of at-risk students.
BOOKS AND CDs
-Owning It: Proven Strategies for Success in ALL of Your Roles as a Teacher Today (named “Recommended Reading by the U.S. Department of Education)
-The Teacher of the Year Handbook
-The Rappin’ Mathematician: Volume 1
-The Rappin’ Mathematician: Multiplication Nation (CD & Activity Book)
How To Be A Highly Effective Teacher Who Loves What They Do
Teaching is not just what we do. Teaching is what we are. This session presents six principles that remind us why we chose teaching, why we love teaching, and exactly what we can do to be a highly effective teacher! From learning from our own failures to understanding out students’ ethnicity, Alex shares stories, strategies and inspiration that can be immediately implemented to have a lasting effect on our students and our profession.
The TurnAround Teacher
Real Classroom Management for Real Students
After eight years of successful teaching, one of the country’s top teachers found himself with a class that left him frustrated, helpless, and wanting to quit. Demoralized and desperate, he set out on a journey to turn his class around. Alex weaves stories of brutal honesty with strategies and solutions that will inspire, reinvigorate and motive educators to teach with passion and courage, and create the world as it can be.
Rap & The Gap
Why Understanding Our Students is the Key to Helping them Achieve
Let’s be honest: We can’t teach our students if we don’t understand who they are, and how they’re motivated. The key is to stop trying to force our curriculum into our students’ lives; and instead, fit our students’ lives into the curriculum. Alex connects his own desperate attempts to connect with his students, to the lessons he learned along his journey to becoming one of America’s top teachers. Be prepared to laugh, to cry, to return to your school ignited with fresh strategies that can be immediately implemented.
Making Math Cool, with The Rappin’ Mathematician!
The workshop that made Alex famous! This session offers teachers the tools, courage and expertise to combat negative stereotypes of mathematicians as “nerdy” and “boring.” Before students can be motivated to achieve in math, they must first see its value in their own lives. Engaging, effective teaching speaks to students where they live. “Making Math Cool!” delivers easy-to-implement, hands-on strategies that turn even the most hardened student into one that says, “Hey, that’s pretty cool – and so is my teacher!”
How to Connect Math & Literacy
Now more than ever, the ability to speak, read and write is becoming an essential part of math class. Teachers will explore, discuss, practice and reflect upon high-leverage strategies that are easy-to-implement, and will get our students on the path toward achieving the Common Core Math Standards.
Specific topics to be covered include:
-Getting students to talk about math in a way that is meaningful and relevant to their lives.
-Getting students writing about math, and using math to argue, communicate and justify their thinking.
-Teaching students to persevere in attempting, evaluating and solving “word problems.”
-Addressing the negative stereotypes about math that exist in society, and how to combat them.
-Strategies, activities and games that can be used to engage students while teaching the Common Core.
Why Race Matters & How To Talk About It
Harsh Reality: We can’t teach our students if we can’t connect with them. Connecting on a superficial level is nice; but connecting with students at the deeper level of their ethnicity is transformative. As demographics across the country change rapidly, so do the faces in our schools. In this session, Alex takes teachers through the most comfortable, non-threatening discussion about race and ethnicity that they have ever experienced. He enables them to focus on how to understand their own ethnicity, then their students’ ethnicity, and use both to create and deliver powerful lessons that increase academic achievement.
“Some of the most creative work I have ever seen a teacher do.”
Dr. Harry K Wong
Author, The First Days of School
“Alex Kajitani is an amazing teacher and an incredible communicator and motivator.”
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
“This was the greatest inservice that I have ever been a part of in my seven years of teaching! I am leaving inspired and excited to try all of the things that Alex taught us today.”
Indian Hill Elementary (Omaha, NE)
“WOW! Worth my entire summer! I’d love to attend more of your presentations. Great applicable ideas!”
Back-to-School Convocation (Odessa, TX)
“I gained so many fresh ideas and a better attitude after hearing Alex speak. This is the best event I have attended in my 25 years as an educator!”
Shallowater ISD, TX
“I am speechless over the impact and brilliance of your teaching approach.”
Fullerton College Event
“Your presentation was awesome! It was inspiring to see how much you do to reach your students. You were truly the highlight of the conference.”
NCTM National Conference Attendee
“Alex was a fabulous presenter. He kept my attention from the first minute to the last. Bring him back soon!”
“This was one of the BEST and most useful workshops that I’ve been to! I will definitely share all of Alex’s ideas with my colleagues!”
A.B. Duncan Elementary, TX
“Thank you for all the practical tips! It’s good to know that even an ‘expert’ has had difficulty with classroom management. This has been the most relevant inservice I have been to in the past two years. It has helped me crystallize some of the ideas I want to implement in my classroom.”
Sarkey’s Math Conference (Oklahoma City, OK)
“Our students are already benefiting from your work! Your message was not only heard, but I am already seeing several strategies and techniques you shared happening in our classrooms and on campus. I hear positive dialogue amongst staff about your day with us. The best part is that our students are being Kajitanized! You are affecting kids you have never met in a positive way. You have already made a difference in their lives.”
Principal, Farifield High School (Fairfield, CA)
“Alex’s stories are so real and relevant to our teachers and students. He’s a teacher who has ‘been there’ and knows what it takes to succeed with our students.”
Assistant Superintendent, Roosevelt ISD, TX
“I am a teacher of 23 years who was burned out. Alex’s session has given me new insight into teaching students. Thank you for your work. I am looking forward to teaching again.”
“Alex was an inspiring example of what teaching is all about. He was thought-provoking and real.”
CA PTA Annual State Conference Attendee
“Listening to you (Alex) has given me the courage to change some of the things I do in my class, for some of the more ‘out of the norm’ ideas. Thank you for the inspiration!”
“Alex’s strategies allow any student to be successful, and they give hope we can still connect with students on a personal level.”
Workshop Attendee (Lubbock, TX)
“This was wonderful, hands-on help. I love a teacher like Alex who is REAL. Thank you for showing us that we are not alone with our challenges!”
Boise City Public Schools
“Alex, this was amazing. I am a 46 year-old teacher who teachers 4th grade. You have truly inspired me to do more for my students. I teach at a Title 1 school, and the majority of my students are Hispanic. I really want to be able to connect with my students on a more personal level. I now have LOTS of ideas how!”
“Besides the great strategies for English Language Learners, the day was very motivational and entertaining. I’m returning to my classroom with a new and energized approach!
Back-to-School Convocation (Midland, TX)
“Thank you for your great talk. I take professional development classes every summer—these are by far the most realistic ideas about teaching. You gave me many ideas to take back and sharing with my professional learning community.”
Ponca City West Middle School, OK
“Great speaker. Great ideas. I will use Alex’s information when training teachers. I will spread the message!”
Region 17 Education Service Center, TX
“Alex was an awesome presenter. I learned new strategies to help my students learn the math content. I am definitely going to put this stuff into action!”
“I love Alex’s ideas about incorporating (rap) music into teaching methods. His statistics on student success through using rap music is incredible.”
Region 17, Texas
“You are a wonderful presenter. You are very passionate about connecting with students, and encouraging and motivating others to do the same. Thanks for your time!”
Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District
“Alex, I enjoyed your presentation. I was motivated by your approach to classroom management, and was inspired by your resourcefulness and passion for teaching. I was very fun to hear your raps, and to see the students get involved with the music by making the videos!”
Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics