Are you thinking, “Who me? But I have nothing to write about.” Think again. The pages of the TCM, MTMS, and MT have many examples of teacher-written articles that highlight useful aspects of their practices. Often, we may think that the things we do in our classrooms are “old hat” because we do them routinely when in fact they may be quite innovative. The Editorial Panels of all the journals urge all readers, especially classroom teachers, to consider writing.
Starting the Process
Writing is a process, not an event. It will take time to develop your ideas into a coherent article. Begin by keeping a notebook and jotting down your ideas, successes, and concerns. The reflection on these notes can become the basis for a manuscript. Try to keep samples of students’ work to include in your article; readers value such examples as being useful tools that help the classroom aspect of your work come alive. Read past articles in the journal to help you get a sense of what makes a good manuscript.
Picking a Topic
When you decide to write, look through recent journals to see what topics have been discussed. You are encouraged to write on whatever aspect of teaching and learning mathematics you know best. Some topics are popular, ongoing themes, such as algebraic thinking, professional development, and problem solving. Whether it is an old topic with a fresh slant or a relatively new topic, pick one central idea and stay with it.
You may want to choose a topic from a list of Calls for Manuscripts that each Editorial Panel has compiled. Surveys tell us that some topics are important to readers but are rarely discussed in submitted manuscripts.
Remember that writing will take time and thought. However, it can be a tremendously fulfilling experience to see your name on an article, knowing that you’ve shared ideas, which other teachers can adopt and adapt. To test audience reaction, give a rough draft to colleagues for their comments. Be prepared to rewrite the manuscript before and after it is submitted. Revision is fundamental to writing; even experienced authors revise and rewrite their work.
Keep in mind Preparation Guidelines and Requirements as you develop your work.
How Your Manuscript Becomes An Article
Manuscripts are reviewed by peers in the mathematics education community and the Editorial Panel, all of whom are volunteers. The NCTM journals employ a 'double blind' review process, which means that neither the authors or the reviewers know of each other's identity. This allows for an objective and honest review of work submitted for publication. Below is a diagram, providing an overview of the review process.
Specific questions regarding the review process can be answered by the Journal Editor of the journal in which you'd like to publish.