President's Messages: Matt Larson
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.
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
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.
What design principles would you include to ensure that an effective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program builds mathematics understanding?
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.