Thank You for the Journey

  • Thank You for the Journey

    October 2022

    In writing my final President’s Message, I am reflecting on how wonderful it was to end with an in-person Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, the first in three years. It was energizing to attend insightful sessions, walk through the Exhibit Hall, talk with everyone, and watch attendees meet and greet one another with such enthusiasm. Many had met in virtual spaces over the past two-and-a-half years and were excited to see each other for the first time in person (or as some referred to it, in 3-D!). They engaged in thoughtful discussions, listened as presenters shared ideas, laughed together, and shared concerns and wonderings. I appreciate the extensive work by the NCTM Program Committee and the NCTM Staff in planning and organizing a powerful program, and I thank sponsors and vendors for your support.

    From the opening, “Making Numbers Count,” with Chip Heath, to the closing with José Vilson, “A Moment for Hope: Why We Do What We Do,” we were all inspired and energized. I highly recommend that you view the recording (available soon) of Nicole Joseph giving the Iris M. Carl Equity Address: “Making Black Girls Count in Mathematics Education: A Black Feminist Vision of Transformative Teaching.” It was powerful; it challenged us and provided thoughtful reflection on actions for each of us.

    We also had fun reflecting on the last century of NCTM that Zalman Usiskin provided as a celebration of history sprinkled with music (it was to have been part of the 100-year celebration in Chicago in 2020). There were so many other highlights such as Ignite, Game Night, ShadowCon, The Meeting Spot, NCTM Central and Bookmobile, hundreds of sessions, and more! Oh, and we set a Guinness World Record for constructing the largest pattern blocks mosaic. It was exciting to see attendees collaborating to build the parts and contribute to this historic event. Many shared ways they plan to use this activity in their classrooms, across schools, and in their community to broaden understanding of mathematics through its wonder, joy, and beauty.

    In April 2020 as I began my NCTM presidency, I reminded us that teaching mathematics is a journey we take with not only our students but also our colleagues, friends, family, and others each day, week, month, and year, over our lifetime. This has been true as well on the journey of the past two-and-a-half years as NCTM president. I have not traveled alone but with many others. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from so many and serve the mathematics education community through NCTM. As I began as president in 2020, I shared three things I had learned along the way on my teaching journey:

    1. Continued learning is key to growth and joy.
    2. Building relationships is essential; we are not on this journey alone but with many others.
    3. Taking the next step and embracing the journey are vital to moving forward.

    I feel those apply to the journey in service as well. I continued to learn throughout my term and found not only opportunities to grow but also joy in that work. I was able to build relationships with so many in our community, such as classroom teachers, organizational leaders, students, NCTM Board members and staff, and many more. Sometimes the journey has been difficult and challenging, and certainly with mistakes along the way and much more to learn, but always embracing opportunities and understanding that we need to continue, taking the next step, moving forward and learning.

    To that list I add one more “learning”—the power of collaboration. It is connected to building relationships, but I want to specifically identify it as a powerful learning for me. During my term, I have had the privilege of being a part of multiple collaborations with individuals, NCTM Affiliates, and other organizations across states and provinces and around the world. We have been in this together, and together we can be a catalyst for change on this journey.

    Serving as president of NCTM has been an honor. I have been blessed to serve with an amazing NCTM Board and staff and our various committees working together during many challenging times that started with the global pandemic. I want to acknowledge outgoing Board members Sarah Bush, Carol Matsumoto, Lorie Huff, and Jennifer Outzs, who fortunately were able to end with an in-person Annual Meeting where we could celebrate them in person. I appreciate NCTM Executive Director Ken Krehbiel for his strength in leadership and Associate Executive Director Dave Barnes for his guidance in advocacy. There are so many more—too numerous to name—but please know that I thank each staff member, committee member, NCTM member, Affiliate leader and member, and each person in the mathematics education community for your dedication to high-quality mathematics teaching and learning for each and every student. You are all amazing!

    Last, I want to thank our new NCTM President, Kevin Dykema, with whom I have had the pleasure of working for the past year. I had the good fortune to serve with him on the Board a few years ago and then again this past year. He is dedicated, insightful, and an important voice for mathematics education. I wish him the best and look forward to learning from him as he leads NCTM in the next part of our organization’s journey. Let’s join him in this journey.

    We all have much to look forward to in the next stage of our journey. I thank you for being a part of my journey over the past two-and-a-half years.

    Let’s continue to enjoy the journey.

    Trena Wilkerson
    NCTM President