- Steven Leinwand
Eight Reasons (with Specific Actions) Why I Want to be Your NCTM PresidentArticle posted on Wednesday, September, 5th, 2012 at 5:00 am
- I will ensure that NCTM provides indispensable and high quality support for teachers charged with implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
- I will demand and advocate for the widespread implementation of desperately needed new forms of professional development.
- I want to lead NCTM to more broadly partner with NSF, foundations and corporations to secure financial support for the teaching and learning of mathematics.
- I will guarantee that NCTM forcefully and publically stands up for teachers of mathematics.
- I will ensure that, through NCTM, teachers of mathematics have greater visibility, respect and voice in national and policy arenas.
- I am dedicated to the belief that all children deserve high-quality experiences in their mathematics classrooms everyday of their educational lives.
- I will ensure that NCTM and its affiliates grow and thrive over the coming decades.
- I want to apply my career in mathematics education leadership to reform our professional organization so that we better serve the diverse needs of our members and potential members.
Reason 1: I will ensure that NCTM provides indispensable and high-quality support for teachers charged with implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
The single greatest challenge currently facing NCTM as an organization is to help our members navigate the transition to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). To do so, we must make certain the necessary infrastructures, including adequate time and materials for professional development, textbooks and curriculum (both print and electronic), and information on assessments, are in place and aligned with this monumental transition. From my perspective, the CCSSM represents a long-overdue national codification and evolution of our NCTM Standards—and we should be proud that NCTM has helped bring clarity regarding the important mathematics we should teach our children. Even in NCTM-supported states and Canadian provinces where the CCSSM have not been adopted, they will undoubtedly impact the mathematics that is taught, so NCTM efforts to guide good instruction will ultimately benefit our members there as well.
Given the attention to, and impact of, the CCSSM throughout the mathematics education world, NCTM and its affiliates need to assume a much larger leadership role as critical friends of the educators making the transition toward the CCSSM implementation. While the CCSSM implementation infrastructures will vary from state to state and district to district, and will largely be the responsibilities of state and local school governance bodies, NCTM initiatives must ensure that our members, and mathematics teachers in general, receive the support they need and deserve. These initiatives are likely to include the development of a set of implementation standards that lays out the necessary structures and policies required to effectively support schools and teachers as they transition toward the CCSSM. We must also consider “Ideas for Implementing the CCSSM” in our journals; position papers on how, where and why the CCSSM needs revisions and tweaking; advocacy for a governance structure for the ongoing improvement of the CCSSM; a mathematics education research agenda that will improve education for our children; and a revision mechanism for the CCSSM based on that research.
NCTM faces the critical challenge of finding ways to provide timely and tangible support for our members—committing even more time and energy to the implementation of standards than we have spent in their creation. It is simpler to write and publish a new set of standards than to translate those standards into meaningful classroom practice that makes a positive difference for children and teachers. We will need to identify appropriate targets of opportunity and move decisively to support the tens of thousands of teachers of mathematics struggling daily to implement the CCSSM. Without new forms of support, we run the risk of alienating and losing to our profession many creative and dedicated mathematics teachers. And we will face an impossible task rejuvenating our profession with talented new mathematics teachers.
Reason 2: I will demand and advocate for the widespread implementation of desperately needed new forms of professional development.
NCTM’s priorities include “provide professional development to all stakeholders.” I believe it is time to move beyond traditional, unidirectional, “sit-n-git” professional development and recognize the imperative for school- and classroom-based teacher development based on coaching, collaboration and effective grade-level and departmental professional learning communities. Many NCTM members face serious obstacles and skepticism when they attempt to change practice. Many work in environments that are indifferent, and even hostile, to the vision of the CCSSM and NCTM. Many of our members have colleagues who are unaware of the research-based vision of effective mathematics teaching. It is incumbent upon us to do more to provide our members with the tangible support they need to overcome the obstacles to change they face. A coordinated “professionalizing the profession of teachers of mathematics” initiative—including position papers, research briefs, a website, and collaborative efforts with our sister educational organizations—is a first step toward building the case for change and improvement.
Reason 3: I want to lead NCTM to more broadly partner with NSF, foundations and corporations to secure financial support for the teaching and learning of mathematics.
More specifically, I will champion:
- Recruiting foundations and the corporate community, through vehicles such as Change the Equation, to financially support cadres of Math Teacher Leader Coaches (Math TLCs) trained and deployed in schools across North America (designated and honored, for example, as Intel Math TLCs or TI Math TLCs).
- Establishing an Emerging Mathematics Education Leader Fellows program to better “stock” the mathematics education leadership pipeline at both the school and collegiate levels.
- Reenergizing and expanding the NCTM Professional Development Academy as a recognized and respected provider of high quality professional development experiences in mathematics for teachers, supervisors and administrators.
- Developing a state-of-the-art annotated Web-based video library of mathematics instruction that is aligned with the NCTM Standards and the CCSSM and that incorporates discussion guides to support the widespread visualization of exactly what quality mathematics instruction looks like and sounds like.
- Creating and implementing—in conjunction with our affiliated groups—a “Math Contact in Every School” program to strengthen NCTM outreach and broaden our impact.
In too many places teachers are not adequately respected. Too often we are under-appreciated and the challenges we face day-in and day-out are minimized and marginalized by policy-makers at all levels who either are uninformed or misguided. There is no organization other than NCTM representing the interests and the specific needs of teachers of mathematics on a national level in the United States and Canada. There is no other organization better positioned to take public and forceful stands that support the vision of making mathematics work for all of our students. There is no other organization that can better articulate the needs of teachers and schools to bring creative vision of mathematics education to fruition. NCTM must become visible in the halls of power, on the op-ed pages of newspapers and on the programs and agenda of diverse educational policy organizations. I will work tirelessly to design, secure funding for, orchestrate, and implement a national “We teach math and we ensure the future!” campaign. A campaign that emphasizes teachers’ indispensability to the future of our children is long overdue.
Reason 5: I will ensure that, through NCTM, teachers of mathematics have greater visibility, respect and voice in national and policy arenas.
NCTM has committed to serve as the “public voice of mathematics,” but this voice is often muted or ignored. Our efforts going forward must focus on establishing NCTM as the “place to turn” for information on the teaching and learning of mathematics. We have made great strides in this direction; however, we must make much greater use of technology, including social media, to implement a vigorous and ongoing program to alert and mobilize our membership when our vital interests are at stake. An NCTM-led “Teachers of Math Need to Know” mechanism of Web-alerts, “tweet” warnings and other social media campaigns can provide our members and policy-makers with the sense that we are fully informed when it comes to mathematics education and prepared to mobilize our membership in the interests of children.
More broadly, we need to find ways, as an organization, to move forward nimbly and strategically. As with other high-performance organizations in the information age, we face the challenge of operating faster, more efficiently and more collaboratively. We must streamline decision-making, eliminate analysis paralysis and create mechanisms that allow us to move our profession forward expeditiously, yet responsibly.
We are blessed with an extraordinary headquarters staff and an amazing membership, who together are responsible for the remarkable accomplishments of our 82 years. However, times for committed educators have never been tougher. We cannot afford to suffer from excessive cautiousness nor lack of access to important data about the state of our profession and about our members, and we cannot afford to respond slowly when opportunities to build on our collective strengths arise. As experienced teachers, we know how to improve the mathematics education of our students. Through NCTM and its affiliates, we can ensure that our voices are heard and our wisdom is put to good use.
When policy-makers at the national level are making decisions that affect our profession, let’s be present. Because I live less than a mile from Capitol Hill, I will be there when needed. And I will bring our organization and you, its membership, to the discussions.
Reason 6: I am dedicated to the belief that all children deserve high-quality experiences in their mathematics classrooms every day of their educational lives.
All of us have dedicated our lives to education in order to serve children—all children. We recognize that the experiences of the children in the classrooms of the U.S. and Canada range from the best offered to any child in the world to experiences that tragically “cross the line” and should rightly be labeled as “child abuse.” We must not allow poverty or profiling to impact a child’s opportunity to learn. We cannot let race, gender, religion, or anti-social factors (like bullying or homophobia) interfere with a child’s education. As your president, I will be your “equity” president—demanding the best from our profession while holding those with power over our professional lives accountable for supporting us be the best mathematics teachers we can be in our classrooms and schools. Those who know me know that my voice can project. I want to use that voice to advocate for the educational rights of all teachers and all their students—for you.
Reason 7: I will ensure that NCTM and its affiliates grow and thrive over the coming decades.
If our children are to get the mathematics education they deserve, our profession must recruit and retain tens of thousands of talented new teachers in the coming years. As teaching environments and working conditions deteriorate in so many of our schools, NCTM must find better ways to work together to ensure our collective success. Our effort must not only focus on reaching out to new teachers and mentoring them into our ranks, but it also must include working better together as veteran leaders. For too long, NCTM and its affiliates have worked in tandem, not together, to achieve our common goals. Under my NCTM presidency, we will examine and strengthen the relationship between NCTM and its state, provincial and national affiliates, and together we will find ways to reach teachers—veteran teachers not currently in our ranks, new teachers who need our support, and new potential teachers on whom our children must count—in order to strengthen our collective membership and speak to educational policy and funding agencies with one clear professional voice.
Reason 8: I want to apply my successful career in mathematics education leadership to reform our professional organization so we better serve the diverse needs of our members and potential members.
For the past 30 years I have been an outspoken advocate for high quality mathematics education and for the support of teachers of mathematics, both nationally and internationally. I will bring to NCTM leadership an idealistic view of what needs to be done and a realistic view of what can be done; a passion for teaching and learning; a record of successfully turning visions into reality; and a deep respect for teachers of mathematics at every level. I offer myself as a committed change agent, dedicated to improving the system in which teachers teach and students learn—a system in which NCTM is the critical national player.
I bring a broad range of experiences—project leadership, committee membership, professional responsibility—to my candidacy. I have been blessed by opportunities to work in nearly every state in the U.S. and every province of Canada, at every level of education from elementary to college, and in both the public and private sectors. I have interacted with teachers, students, parents, and administrators in hundreds of schools and thousands of classrooms. My experiences with curriculum, instruction, assessment, and building professional cultures have provided me with a wealth of insights about what is working and what is not, what initiatives make a real difference—and which fall flat—and who across North America can be recruited to help make NCTM’s vision of quality mathematics for all a reality. Serving as your NCTM president, with all of my passion for making mathematics work for all children, will be the most challenging and rewarding honor of my career.
Thank you for your support.