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.
Robert Q. Berry III (President-Elect) [Twitter]:
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.
Jason Slowbe (Director, High School) [Twitter, Web]:
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.
DeAnn Huinker (Director, At Large) [Twitter]:
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?
- Steve Weimar outlines NCTM’s current efforts towards helping teacher develop continuously online.
- Cal Armstrong wants to see current or recent teachers in leadership positions
- Brandon Dorman would like to see NCTM accredit its members using technology like Mozilla’s Open Badges.
Steve WeimarOctober 17, 2016 - 5:32 pm -
It’s exciting to me to see the interest in this aspect of the NCTM vision and building an organization that can realize it. The Math Forum, in its integration within NCTM, is focused on exactly the goal of building a professional learning community as Dan describes. Unfortunately, for legal and bureaucratic reasons, the process of separating from Drexel was long and drawn out, but we are able to proceed in earnest at this point. We are focused currently in three areas just being defined and for which we hope everyone will contribute ideas and indicate their interest in working together:
1. Ask the NCTM Community: Creating a space in which everyone in the community can effectively provide the mutual support Dan describes and make use of those interactions to build knowledge that can serve others beyond those in the mix at the moment.
2. Classroom Resource Collaboration Center: Building a digital library of the community’s favored resources that is situated in a environment that facilitates the community interacting around what makes for excellent resources and effective implementation, sharing student work, teaching and learning stories and video, and helping folks fill the gaps and improve what is available.
3. Center for Expanding Our Professional Learning: Seeking to establish continuity and productive engagement across or underneath of the professional learning that happens in conferences, institutes, journals, Twitter chats, books and blogs; that happens at various levels from the national to the local. Building an infrastructure that supports informal group formation and provides the resources and organization that enable members to carry the insights of the moment to improved practices and professional advancement and to sustain their mutual support and valuing of each other.
In truth, our real focus is simply on finding ways to value each other and to increase our ability to meet the needs of the 98% of our colleagues in teaching and research who are not now an active part of our various communities. The three areas of focus described above are hopefully good starting points for our collective conversation and collaboration. If not, we look forward to learning and figuring out better as we go.
We feel completely supported and even pressed by the NCTM Board in this effort and appreciate all efforts to ensure this continues and strengthens.
Cal ArmstrongOctober 17, 2016 - 6:42 pm -
My first criterion is if they a current or recent classroom educator; the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ leadership should be found amongst those who are actively teaching mathematics in schools, who recognize the strengths and limitations of modern classrooms, curricula, assessments and resources and can speak to the needs of teachers in the field. They have seen and felt the classroom and social environment of our students and our fellow mathematics faculty and can speak to the stressors from recent memory.
Off topic, what an incredible coup to have the Math Forum fall under the NCTM umbrella.
Brandon DormanOctober 17, 2016 - 7:04 pm -
I’d love to see more work and visibility around badges (Mozilla’s OpenBadges perhaps) for example to make it easily discoverable who is an expert at Desmos, or Geogebra, or Algebra II, etc. The #MtBOS community is vast but making those people resources more discoverable is something NCTM could help facilitate.
Dave EbertNovember 3, 2016 - 5:33 am -
I think it’s great that you went from this statement, “A few years ago, I’d vote for any candidate who even mentioned the internet in her candidacy statement.”, to finding promising excerpts from every candidate’s statements. I look forward to finding ways to utilize the talents of our 70,000 members throughout the year.
Thank you for your support, and I hope to serve the mathematics students teachers well as a new member of the NCTM Board!