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In every school, educators with diverse backgrounds and a wide array of expertise collectively work to teach students fundamental skills and prepare them to lead independent, productive lives. Every teacher—from the language arts classroom to the drama stage to the woodworking shop and back to social studies, science, and Spanish—plays an important role in cultivating intelligent, well-rounded thinkers and citizens.

But I’ll let you in on a secret, mathematics teacher: Your work is as vital to your students’ future success as the air they breathe.

Mathematical ability has emerged as the single most critical skill that schools must develop in students to open doors to future opportunities. Whether the students you work with are headed to college or a career, their ability to choose a path for themselves and pursue their dreams is rooted in the depth of their understanding of how mathematics works and quantifies the world around them.

Today, more than at any other time in human history, we live in a world of technology that constantly reinvents itself, a world of scientific inquiry and discovery. Mathematics is the bedrock on which science and technology advance.

Students need computational skill and numeric fluency, but, even more, they need to own mathematical understanding in a deep and personal way that allows them to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, medicine, design, or any other field they might select.

Our world may indeed be flat, but, to the students you serve, it is also an infinite plane that joins us all together. The work you do to help students see the mathematics all around them makes it possible for them be successful today and into tomorrow.

The responsibility that you own as a mathematics teacher is a massive and altogether worthwhile one. Every subject and every teacher are important to each student’s overall growth, just as all the members of the band must work together to create a song. But there is only one rock star in the group: It’s you.

SchuhlSarahSarah Schuhl has worked as a secondary mathematics teacher and instructional coach for twenty years, is an author, former MT Editorial Panel Chair, and consultant.  She enjoys working with teachers to find instructional and assessment practices that result in student learning 

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