From the President's Pen
Promoting a High-Quality Mathematics Education
Both the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (GCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) address the importance of a high-quality mathematics education in their mission statements. While the mission statement of GCTM uses the phrase “promote a high-quality mathematics education for all students,” NCTM uses the phrase “advocates for high-quality mathematics teaching and learning for each and every student.” This requires much work on the part of teachers both in and out of the classroom. Teachers can inform friends, family, community members, and legislators about the importance of students developing conceptual understanding of concepts and the skills needed for the 21st century: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
As teachers and students enter the classroom each day as unique individuals, they bring their culture, background experiences, knowledge, strengths, and unique personal histories. This diversity is an asset to education. It is critical for teachers to acknowledge what each student brings and create classrooms where each student is valued as individuals capable of learning mathematics. The 60th Annual Georgia Mathematics Conference (GMC) focused on teachers Acquiring the Keys to Access and Equity: bias recognition, critical consciousness, cultural competence, cultural responsiveness, and open mindedness. As teachers use these keys, a classroom environment can be developed and learning experiences can be designed that use students’ interests to better engage students in the mathematics. If you were able to attend the conference, I hope you will continue to reflect on what you heard and learned at the conference and use the keys in your practice. If you weren’t able to attend, check for information on the website, GCTM Facebook page, and @gctm_math. Plan now to attend the 2020 GMC on October 14 – 16, 2020 where the theme shifts the focus to the students, Access and Equity: Unlocking Doors to Empower Students. You can read more about the keynote and featured speakers for the 2020 conference later in this issue.
At the NCTM Affiliate Leadership Conference this past summer, NCTM President Robert Berry stressed the importance of communicating the importance of high-quality mathematics teaching and learning to all stakeholders. While organizations can take a stance toward advocacy to focus, raise awareness, and influence decision makers and the public on issues concerning mathematics teaching and learning, advocacy needs to take place at the individual level as well. Dr. Berry shared things to consider in the process for advocating: make a friend, determine what their interests are, make your case, share stories, share data and actions, follow-up and support them. He stressed that stories can make an impact.
Data over the last several years has shown an increase in student achievement as the Mathematics Georgia Standards for Excellence have been implemented. They include important mathematical concepts with the development of conceptual understanding in the content standards as well as critical thinking skills. The Position Statement (on the website and later in this issue) adopted by GCTM shares data about student achievement and the belief that any revisions to the standards should maintain high expectations to prepare students to compete in a global society. While acknowledging and celebrating the growth in student achievement, we realize that more work needs to be done for each student to achieve mastery.
As GCTM continues to work toward its objectives, “…to encourage an active interest in mathematics and to act as an advocate for the improvement of mathematics education at all levels,” it needs to continue to have active and involved members. If you or someone you know is interested in serving as an officer, please read over the duties and responsibilities of the various positions on the website in the GCTM Policies that can be found on the “About Us” page on the GCTM website. Complete the survey at http://bit.ly/GCTMOfficers by January 15, 2020. You will be asked to share the position in which you are interested and why you think you would be a good person to fill that position based on your qualifications to fulfill the responsibilities.