I am very excited to continue my work on the NCSM Board after a 3-year term as NCSM Western 1 Regional Director. At some point in one's teaching career, there comes a time to give back for all that was given to you, and to pass along to others the professional knowledge learned along the journey. After a 32-year career in the high school math classroom, followed by ten years of working with both preservice teachers and those wishing to reflect upon and perfect their classroom teaching and furthering math education research with university colleagues, my own life-long learning continues. Throughout my career, I have found ways of making math accessible to all students, and especially to underachievers and those in special education programs. These students, who often haven't had access to conceptually based techniques, need experienced teachers to develop math lessons that are both engaging and relevant, thus enabling students to access rigorous content.
Organizations such as NCSM give experienced educators a forum from which to share professional knowledge. They make networking and collaboration possible so all students can have access to a rigorous and meaningful mathematics curriculum. The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics challenge us to better prepare ALL students to focus deeply on each concept, making better sense of the math and its connections within and to other fields; solve real-world problems; and be prepared for the mathematics needed in college, career, and life.
I am continuing my journey with a new role, that of Associate Newsletter Editor. Do busy educators have time to keep up with professional reading? What kinds of articles interest you? How does the new online format of our newsletter impact the way you gather information? Many readers are looking for answers to their questions, updates to their current paths, and new inspiration. Will the articles you and I write for NCSM provide insight into your daily journey? Let me know.
Am I a Math Leader? Quite often, teachers say to me, "I'm just a teacher. The math curriculum person at the district office is the math leader. S(he) should be a member of NCSM and attend their meetings." Not true, but that in fact is what I once thought! I attended NCTM conferences for years, not even considering attending the NCSM annual conference, which always occurred at the same location as NCTM but a few days earlier. When is that transition point? When do you consider yourself a mathematics leader? When should you be asking yourself if the math leadership conference is more suited to you than the math teachers' conference (that is if you can't attend both)? For me, that transition point occurred in 1988 when I was presenting teacher workshops in Santa Cruz County, California, in addition to my high school teaching responsibilities. For others it is when they are asked to be department chair, grade level leader, math coach, or assistant principal, and they want to create professional learning communities, direct the discussion/implementation of Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, or perhaps critically examine the direction of present/future courses, math content, or textbook adoption at their school sites.
What I noticed at the first NCSM conference I attended was:
Many of the same prominent mathematics education speakers were on the program. Actually, many were invited to speak at both NCTM and NCSM.
The focus was on big ideas, current issues, and future trends in math education (teaching, learning, and assessment), rather than lessons I could use in my classroom tomorrow.
Meal functions were included in the registration cost, which enabled me to network and share ideas with others at my table. Some of the meal functions had speakers, and at others I received cool freebies to use in my classroom! Sometimes I was at a table with a major speaker and could listen intently and ask more questions than their talk allowed for at the time.
Sad, but true, I felt more professional.
I credit my NCSM membership with giving me ideas, research, resources, collaboration, and support that enabled me to put into practice a significant positive change in both my high school teaching and my leadership roles.