Resilience, Creativity, and Adaptation

  • Resilience, Creativity, and Adaptation

    April 2020

    As I write this final President’s Message, many school districts have closed their physical buildings and have transitioned to remote or virtual teaching and learning. Consequently, we are all challenged to think differently about the teaching and learning of mathematics. Finding the courage and energy to push through these challenges, despite how hard it is, requires resilience. These challenges afford opportunities for us to be resilient, creative, and adaptive in our work. Resilience can be viewed as a multidimensional process of positive adaptation in which we use resources available to further the development of knowledge.

    I am proud and thankful for the resilience, creativity, and adaptation that our community has demonstrated. I see that many teachers of mathematics and educators, in general, are using the various resources available to them to create spaces for innovative learning. I see caregivers and teachers engaging in supporting learners for academic learning but, more importantly, connecting socially and emotionally. I am especially proud of NCTM’s resilience, creativity, and adaptability with 100 Days of Professional Learning by turning the cancelation of the Centennial Meeting into a new opportunity for the community.

    NCTM is a resilient organization that has thrived and survived for 100 years. As we look forward to the next 100 years, I believe resiliency, support of the community, and strong leadership will contribute to NCTM’s continued success. The last two years have been a period of significant change for NCTM. The Board, in conjunction with volunteers and staff, has accomplished much:

    • NCTM launched a new journal, Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching in PK–12. The new journal’s name honors the rich legacy of NCTM’s original journal, Mathematics Teacher. It embraces the continuity of learning and teaching mathematics across the grade levels, Learning and Teaching PK–12.
    • NCTM published Catalyzing Change in Early Childhood and Elementary Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations and Catalyzing Change in Middle School Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations to push the field on policies and practices that have an impact on teaching and learning.
    • NCTM expanded its advocacy work to address policies, practices, and issues influencing mathematics teaching and learning. The NCTM Board visited Capitol Hill to interact directly with members of Congress and their staff.
    • The Board and staff continued to work within NCTM’s new membership model to increase member value.
    • MyNCTM, a community space where you can engage and network with other members, is a growing resource for members to access resources as well as a space for members to share their own valuable insights and materials.
    • The Board continued its work on access, equity, and empowerment issues. This work is reflected in the broadening access opportunities for member engagement with the public posting of Board meeting agendas prior to the Board meeting as well as summaries after the Board meeting. Additionally, many of NCTM’s products and services such as the new journal, the Catalyzing Change series, Taking Actions series, as well as expanded virtual opportunities reflect this attention on access, equity, and empowerment.
    • The Board realigned strategic priorities, resources, and expenses to help ensure the viability of NCTM for a second century.

    The current context is an example of NCTM resiliency in which the Board adapted using available resources:

    • The NCTM Board of Directors had its first virtual Board meeting on March 31, 2020.
    • NCTM launched 100 Days of Professional Learning on April 1, 2020, marking the beginning of 100 Days of free webinars for the education community.
    • NCTM held its first virtual business meeting on April 3, 2020.

    On the first night of 100 Days of Professional Learning, I mentioned Elena Aguilar’s (2018) 12 habits to strengthen emotional resilience. I revisit these habits because being attuned to our emotions is vital in our current context. I will mention four habits that I think are important at this moment:

    • 1. Tell Empowering Stories: What empowering stories will we tell about this moment in time?
    • 2. Build Community: Where is my community? What am I actively doing to learn with and from my community?
    • 3. Play + Create: Play and creativity serve as de-stressors. How are you incorporating play and creativity as a regular part of your life?
    • 4. Celebrate + Appreciate: How are you finding ways to engage in daily moments of gratitude?

    The stories I will tell of my term as NCTM President will be of the people I thanked in my March President’s Message. It is those people and the many volunteers that make NCTM a community that is resilient and where we celebrate and appreciate the work of those who make us better. I want to celebrate and give my appreciation to the entire community, but I especially celebrate Trena Wilkerson, NCTM President. I know the community will give Trena the support that it has shown to me. I look forward to her leadership in continuing the growth and development of NCTM.

    It has been an honor, pleasure, and humbling experience to serve as President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I end where I began in my first President’s Message:

    Our love for mathematics, for students, and for communities is a common thread that binds teachers of mathematics together. It explains the willingness of teachers to engage in activities supportive of building community; to engage in professional networks, observing and providing feedback to one another, deepening knowledge of mathematics content and pedagogy, and taking time to learn about our students and their communities; and to engage in critical conversations on issues impacting mathematics teaching and learning. I want to learn more about this thread and how our common ties can help us to be supportive of one another as change agents within the diverse communities we serve.

    As I reflect on these words and my presidency, I believe that our community has grown stronger because we engage supportively and critically with one another, challenge the spaces of marginality, and learn from one another. We have connected with and learned from one another in social media spaces, blogs, publications, NCTM meetings, Affiliate meetings, and through personal connections. I hope that my two-year term has pushed us to draw on our collective efficacy to transform all learning spaces—classrooms, schools, communities, and virtual—into spaces where each and every student sees themselves as mathematically, socially, and emotionally competent.

    It is our collective efficacy and NCTM’s organizational resilience that fostered “Truly Wonderful and Getting Better.”

    Robert Q. Berry III
    NCTM Past President

    Aguilar, Elena. 2018. Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators. John Wiley & Sons.

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    Mary Itotoh - 4/22/2020 9:59:27 PM

    Berry, you have been so wonderful. Thank you so much for the unequalled contributions  to the growth and development of NCTM. throughout your tenureship. Your inspiring messages to remain unified as a body, and goal oriented community, to take NCTM to the Zenith are worthy of note.  

    To President, Trena, I say a big welcome, as you journey the road to making NCTM, a household name and a formidable body, across the globe.

    Mary Itotoh - 4/22/2020 9:51:01 PM

    Berry, you have been so wonderful. Thank you so much for the unqualled contributions  to the growth and development of NCTM. throughout your tenureship. Your inspiring messages to remain unified as a body, and goal oriented community, to take NCTM to the Zenith are worthy of note.  

    To President, Trena, I say a big welcome, as you journey the road to making NCTM, a household name and a formidable body, across the globe.

    mark Ortega - 4/17/2020 6:59:53 PM

    Dear Mr. Berry.  I was listening to your address on resiliency.

    I did want to ask about the free trial memberships.  Where do I send my colleagues to join this Trial membership?  I am a current member, and I have already purchased a membership for one of my colleagues.  I would LOVE for more of them to experience the connections available through NCTM.

    Mary Lindquist - 4/16/2020 10:59:43 AM

    Very positive message and surprisingly NCTM may be stronger now than in recent years.  Good leadership is important!  Thanks.

    Donna Knoell - 4/16/2020 12:41:42 AM

    Thank you, Robert, for your service and dedication to mathematics education.   Your message was extremely meaningful, and I particularly appreciate your genuine dedication, demonstrated by your leadership and your continuing efforts to improve mathematics education for ALL students.  Your term may be ending, but I feel confident that you and your professional service will continue to be felt in the years ahead.  

    Robin White - 4/15/2020 4:44:57 PM

    Thank you Dr. Berry for your fearless leadership. Your impact on mathematics education has been transformative! Because of you, I am truly wonderful and getting better!

    William Speer - 4/15/2020 4:23:46 PM

    Thank you for your outdstanding service as President and for your inspiration as a professional. You have lived the credo of "Truly Wonderful and Getting Better"