Staying focused is harder than it used to be. I begin a task with the intention of completing the task or at least a certain part of it. Someone will walk down the hall, my phone signals I have a new message or email, my Fitbit tells me it’s time to get 250 steps for the hour, a message pops up in the corner of my laptop screen notifying me I have an email, or a thought jumps into my mind distracting me from the task at hand. BookAuthority lists “100 Best Focus Books of All Time” with many interesting titles including Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. Both individuals and organizations often need to be reminded to stay focused or get re-focused on what is important. (It’s been tough to stay focused while writing this article and not look every time my phone buzzes or my Fitbit vibrates.)
To get focused at the biennial GCTM Executive Committee retreat, we started the retreat with a “Mixing to Focus” activity. Executive Committee members were each asked to write on an index card what they thought should be the major focus of GCTM. After five rounds of “mixing" and rating the focus on the cards, the group identified the foci with the most points (25 points maximum).
- Advocating for high quality mathematics in all classrooms for all children (25 points)
- Advocating for relevant standards, teaching strategies, and learning opportunities for each and every learner (25 points)
- Making high quality mathematics instruction for ALL and empowering teachers with providing them with resources to make that possible (24 points)
While the top three related to students, other foci related to teachers.
- Supporting math teachers and math ed at all levels across the state
- Reach as many teachers and systems as possible to share good mathematics strategies and materials and resources
- Provide staff development/resources for educators to become better math educators
- Provide teachers with quality professional development for the benefit of all students of all ages and performance levels
As we looked at foci with 23 points or higher, the importance of access and equity in mathematics education was evident. Members agreed that several ideas from the inaugural Math Equity Summit co-hosted by the GaDOE and CEISMC at Georgia Tech in November of 2019 would be appropriate for consideration by GCTM. Having consensus that GCTM would be well served to develop an equity statement, an ad hoc committee was appointed to draft an equity statement to bring back to the Executive Committee.
In addition, each of the foci were related to the GCTM mission statement.
- promote a high-quality mathematics education for all students,
- encourage an active interest in mathematics and in mathematics education,
- promote ongoing professional development for mathematics education, and
- promote and reward excellence in the teaching of mathematics in the state of Georgia.
During the reports from various officers at the retreat, the committee heard of events offered by GCTM to address the mission statement. Teachers receive quality professional development during the Georgia Mathematics Conference (GMC), the GCTM Summer Academies, and the inaugural High School Summit planned for this summer. Both the 2019 and 2020 GMC themes include an equity focus: 2019 – “Acquiring the Keys to Access and Equity”; 2020 – “Unlocking Doors to Empower Students: Access and Equity.” Excellence in teaching is rewarded as educators are recognized and presented the various awards. An active interest in mathematics and a high-quality mathematics education is promoted through the advocacy efforts with Math Day at the Capitol, invitations to legislators and state school board members to visit GMC and the Summer Academies, the position statement related to high quality standards, the Georgia branded videos about standards on the GCTM website (https://www.gctm.org/videos), and Math Muscles video clips of GCTM members shared by the Collaborative for Student Success. Students can participate in mathematics competitions promoted or sponsored by GCTM.
There are several actions you can take if you are interested in taking a more active role in helping GCTM stay focused. (1) Let us know of your interest in volunteering for the GMC, interning for various GMC Board positions and GCTM Regional Representative positions, or serving as another officer by completing the survey found at https://bit.ly/GCTMOfficers. Look at the GMC Policies Part I for the GMC Board positions or the GCTM Constitution and Policies (https://www.gctm.org/policies) to find the list of GCTM Executive Committee offices and their responsibilities. (2) Help us recognize and reward excellence in teaching by nominating individuals for the various awards. (3) Register and attend a GCTM Summer Academy, the High School Summit, and the 2020 GMC at Rock Eagle.