President's Messages: Matt Larson

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    For almost 100 years, NCTM has been a public voice of mathematics education and has provided its members with quality content in its published journals. In view of the technological advances in scholarly communication and the significant shift from print to digital publication of content, NCTM has been assessing the form and delivery of the rich, valuable content of its journals. 

    In 2015 the NCTM Board of Directors decided to acquire The Math Forum after it was approached by Math Forum staff and informed that its relationship with Drexel University would be severed. The Board recognized the
    The most frequent questions I receive concern instructional time: How much time should we have for math class at the elementary level? Middle level? High school? What does the research say about time?

    One of the many great things about education is that every year brings a new opportunity. Unlike in most other professions, our professional year has a clear start and finish that brings with it both an opportunity to reflect on and learn from the year that just ended, as well as a chance to "wipe the slate clean" and reinvent ourselves as necessary.

    As President and President-Elect of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), we are deeply disturbed and concerned by the acts of terror displayed by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hate and white supremacy have no place in our communities, schools, and classrooms. For many of you, the academic school year has started or will start very soon.

    April 2020 will be a significant year in the history of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In Chicago, from April 1–4, NCTM will celebrate its centennial as a council of teachers of mathematics at the NCTM Centennial Annual Meeting: Looking Back and Moving Forward.

    Over the past year, I have frequently referred to the importance of teachers of mathematics working collaboratively to improve teaching and learning. Over this same time period, many members have asked me what I think characterizes an effective professional learning community or collaborative team.

    As I meet math teachers across the country and present at various state meetings, they often come up to me after my session and tell me they agree with what I said (at least most of it), and tell me they are working hard to change their own practice or striving to modify those policies in their school that don’t promote equitable outcomes. 

    What design principles would you include to ensure that an effective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program builds mathematics understanding? 

    For perhaps the first time in our history there is clear and growing consensus concerning what constitutes effective mathematics instruction, kindergarten through college. The monolithic nature of college mathematics instruction, dominated by lecture and summative exams, is changing.

    The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and its 60,000 members are disappointed that the budget proposal released by the White House last week falls short in its planned investments in education and research across the federal government.
    By now most of us with an interest in mathematics or mathematics education have seen the powerful movie Hidden Figures—many of us likely more than once.
    In many ways it seems as though we live in a world that is out of balance—pushed to extremes—that has “lost the middle” in various ways. To move mathematics teaching and learning forward, we have to resist the urge to be pushed to extremes.
    Despite all the concerns about testing, it would be unwise not to look for lessons and take actions based on the recently released results of large-scale national and international assessments.

    Matt Larson

    When members think of NCTM, most of them probably think first of conferences, professional development, and publications—partly because that’s what’s most visible. The Council’s advocacy work is not always readily apparent to mathematics teachers, but it is a critical component of what your membership supports, and it benefits you in ways you can’t always see.

    Matt Larson

    Recent events in our country have presented educators with challenges that are new to many of us. As mathematics educators we are not immune to the current political climate and emotionally charged environments. In recent weeks I have had some mathematics educators tell me that the political events in our country have no impact on their work as mathematics teachers because “they teach mathematics.” 

    Matt Larson

    Whether you are an elementary, middle level, or high school teacher, you are likely to have had parents say to you that they can’t help their children with their math homework. At the secondary level, the difficulty is often the content itself; at the elementary level, however, it is often a function of parents’ unfamiliarity with the instructional strategies that we use today to build conceptual understanding.

    Matt Larson

    High school mathematics has not changed substantially in my lifetime, nor has it changed substantially for most students, teachers, schools, districts, and states. It is clearly an issue—and it is a critical issue of access, opportunity, and equity. It is with great excitement that NCTM announces it is embarking on the development of Pathways through High School Mathematics: Building Focus and Coherence (working title).

    Matt Larson

    At its July meeting, the NCTM Board of Directors unanimously voted to endorse the NCSM/TODOS joint position statement. Challenged by Danny Martin’s critique of Principles to Actions at the NCTM Research Conference in Boston in 2015, NCTM began, with the help of critical friends, to question and reassess its equity stance, actions, and language. NCTM also began to increase its collaborative actions concerning access, equity, and empowerment issues in a manner that embraces excellence for each and every student.

    Matt Larson

    From its very founding, NCTM has actively promoted the use of high-quality curricular materials to support effective mathematics teaching and student learning. A critical feature of high-quality curricular materials is that they are coherent.

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