Here is how I’m voting in the upcoming NCTM board election. Ballots close 10/31. You should vote too.
There are few issues in mathematics education that both matter a lot and that NCTM can directly affect. One issue in that subset matters most to me:
I care how well NCTM accesses the capacity of its members to help each other develop continuously as educators.
NCTM has the largest store of teaching knowledge of any math education organization in the world. Its 70,000 members comprise hundreds of thousands of years of math education experience. But NCTM accesses that capacity only sporadically. Fewer than ten times yearly at face-to-face conferences. Twelve times per year in its five journals. Occasionally in books and blog posts.
The only medium that will allow an NCTM member in Scranton, PA, to help another member develop continuously in San Diego, CA, is the internet. My tweeting and blogging colleagues know exactly what I’m talking about. They know the exhilaration of asking a question from a veteran and getting an answer in minutes. They know what it’s like to read someone’s interesting idea one day, try it out the next, and then offer the originator some useful feedback.
They’re developing, and developing each other, continuously. They don’t want to wait for conferences, journals, books, or blog posts.
So how am I voting? A few years ago, I’d vote for any candidate who even mentioned the internet in her candidacy statement. Now I’m looking for people who have a plan for helping NCTM’s members develop each other continuously. I’m looking for people who seem receptive to the experiments in online professional development Zak Champagne, Mike Flynn, and I put together annually under the name “ShadowCon.” I’m looking for people who understand that NCTM’s membership is underutilized for most of the year.
Here are promising excerpts from the candidates’ statements.
Membership is a major challenge facing the Council. NCTM must rethink its membership model, working to ensure that longtime members continue to value NCTM while showing potential members the value of associating themselves with NCTM. This can done by tapping into their interests in social media and other digital technologies to promote interactive communities of professionals. Such efforts broaden the Council’s space for professional learning while maintaining meaningful engagement with the membership.
Nora Ramirez (President-Elect):
NCTM has the knowledge, experience, and skills to support both national and state affiliates in developing the abilities to advocate effectively for issues that are critical to them. Affiliates interested in this initiative would meet both face-to-face and online to learn, plan, and collaboratively develop or identify resources.
David Ebert (Director, High School):
NCTM needs to consider all forms of professional learning, including electronic learning opportunities, sustained yearlong professional learning, and joint professional learning opportunities personalized for the needs of the teachers within an affiliate.
NCTM should develop an online platform offering members a living portfolio for their professional development. NCTM already attracts top-notch speakers; now it should empower speakers with tools for building a following and facilitating year-round development. Attending sessions should be the beginning, not the end, of the conference experience. NCTM should enable attendees to pin, share, and discuss resources from within and beyond NCTM, including conference handouts, blog posts, articles, and student work. Integration with affiliate conferences and other stakeholders would connect teachers and grow membership organically. NCTM should leverage both the power of collaboration and its unique position as the world’s largest math education organization to influence more teachers and students.
Rick A. Hudson (Director, At Large):
Teachers today communicate in very different ways from the past, and NCTM must make use of the new media while building on its current strengths to reach a wider audience. For example, the quality of NCTM’s conferences is one of the Council’s greatest strengths, and we must think proactively about ways to share content from conference sessions virtually to reach a larger group of the membership and to extend the conference experience for those in attendance.
A task force on building the next generation of teachers can consider resources, tools, and innovative ways to reach out to prospective teachers, such as providing access to blogs and online mentorships.
Daniel J. Teague (Director, At Large):
NCTM should take the lead in creating online and downloadable video courses (see Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Mathematics and Scott Page’s Model Thinking) to be used by individual teachers and departments for extensive work in these areas.
Desha L. Williams (Director, At Large):
Maintaining and expanding membership is a challenge for NCTM. The age of technology has created avenues for teachers to access information that was once available only within NCTM resources.
Vanessa Cleaver (Director, At Large):
Although I am a huge fan of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media, I believe that these sources are to some extent now meeting the needs of educators for interaction with one another and exchange of information in non—face-to-face settings.
That’s what matters to me and how I’m voting. What about you?