NCSM: A Source of Professional Learning Opportunities, Networking, and Support for Mathematics Education Leaders
Steve Viktora, Central 1 Regional Director
Winter 2009/2010

We discussed attendance at out-of-district professional meetings, at a recent meeting of our district leadership team. The Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, who is a member of NCSM, incidentally, wanted to know how these meetings are used as a part of professional learning in the various departments and what procedures were used to determine who would be allowed or encouraged to attend these meetings.

Why encourage participation at conferences sponsored by professional organizations? There are many reasons. Here are several that were raised by our leadership team.

  • Teachers can attend sessions given by experts in teaching and learning.
  • Attendees can learn about pedagogical practices that work and about relevant research about how students learn.
  • There is an opportunity to network with other professionals.
  • Often participants can get hands-on experience with new technology and/or software.
  • Attendees can share what they have learned with fellow colleagues when they return home.
  • This is a great way to demonstrate support of teachers and teaching.
  • Teachers can become so energized and knowledgeable that they help effect significant change in the department or institution.
  • Participants can learn about new products and resources in the vendor display areas.

There were other reasons given. You may have come up with many others. For instance, one important reason to attend the last NCSM Annual Conference was to "Learn about effective, research-informed practices that enhance equity, curriculum, teaching and learning, and assessment and related leadership strategies to promote and support teachers' successful implementation of these practices."

However, being a member of a professional organization should be more important than occasionally attending a conference sponsored by the organization. Good professional associations provide resources other than a conference, no matter how good the conference might be. The NCSM Annual Conference receives high marks from attendees, but there is a feeling that NCSM does not provide much during the rest of the year. We have had several conversations about this issue at Board meetings, and we as a Board are determined to change this perception. NCSM members have received books and NCSM monographs in the past. And, of course members have gotten quarterly NCSM Newsletters and biannual Journals for decades. In recent years, NCSM has not only produced the NCSM PRIME Leadership Framework, but also a series of position papers. We have identified more position paper topics and scheduled them to be written and published. The Board has identified initiatives that define work over the next few years focused on PRIME and on coaching. We have also created a new structure of state leaders to work with the Regional Directors to provide better service and more direct contact to members. We wish to do more to make the organization relevant the whole year, and we ask you for suggestions.

Finally, be sure to browse through our regional calendar for new postings of events beginning in 2010. There is at least one event for every month through April.

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