I C U N D C: NCTM Annual Meeting Day 2

Today began with a presentation I really didn't want to miss: Mine! I joined up with Lisa Ashe and Denise Schulz from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to deliver a session on advocacy. We talked about governance structures, sources for strengthening your argument, and where to find allies before giving participants about 30 minutes to discuss advocacy strategies in small groups. We had some scenarios for them to consider but they were welcome to bring up their own topics, too. Special thanks to April Pforts, our Iowa colleague, for joining us and helping with the small group facilitation.

W Gary Martin

I next moved to a session from W. Gary Martin and Mariya Rosenhammer from Auburn University. They presented data that they collected about what math is needed for different college majors and the results add to the really strong argument that high school math should include more and better opportunities for students to learn statistics. It was a really solid presentation and the room was near capacity.

John Seelke

I then caught a 30-minute session by John Seelke, a PAEMST awardee who wished to talk about the current state of discourse in our profession and some ways we can try to remain open to others' ideas. It's awfully easy these days to quickly determine that someone's views might not align with your own and to shut them out before really trying to understand where they are coming from.

Steve Leinwand

After a great lunch with Ralph Pantozzi (another PAEMST awardee -- so nice to be in good company), I checked in with Steve Leinwand's session about high school math. I suspected it was going to be things I was mostly familiar with, and it was, but it seemed like the right place to be after having a head full of morning ideas and a stomach full of noontime lunch.

From there, I decided to head to the exhibit hall. As someone who isn't in the classroom and who isn't in a position to purchase anything, a lot of what's in the exhibit hall isn't for me. But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to learn and people to catch up with. I checked in with PhET, who I've always held in high regard since I learned about them and got to know the team while I was in grad school at CU Boulder. I also spent a lot of time at the PAEMST booth, just to talk about the program and some of the work we're collectively doing to keep it going and try to improve it each year. I caught up with Leslie Dietiker, a math educator at Boston University who I was in a working group with years ago at an ISDDE conference. She works with CPM, and visiting their booth is always interesting since those are the texts I began my teaching career with 20 years ago. I moved on and heard about some new work from Math Recovery which might introduce their approaches to elementary math intervention to a larger number of teachers who wouldn't otherwise attend their regular workshops. Lastly, I spent a long time with Cathy Fosnot and Ryan Dent at the New Perspectives booth. I've known of Cathy and her work for a long time now through our shared relationship with the curriculum designers at the Freudenthal Institute and their extension in the U.S. at CU Boulder. We chatted about the state of curriculum development and reviewing and what might be on the horizon and Ryan showed off an innovative approach they're taking to assessment and progress tracking.

This is where the NCTM Annual Meeting becomes more than just a chance to attend sessions and keynotes and browse products in person. It's a chance to talk to people all day long and hear their ideas and ask them your questions and do the same in return. Some of those people are new to me, some I've seen year after year. One moment I'm in the hallway with a teacher from Glenwood Springs whom I've never met, but we have a shared passion for making high school math better, and the next moment I'm chatting with NCTM President Kevin Dykema and he's volunteering to join one of our book study sessions for a book he co-authored. NCTM's not the only place math educators can find a professional community, but it sure can be a good place for it when you spend multiple days in a conference space with other members.