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Empowering Our Educators

How NCTM Is Supporting Math Teachers in 2020 and Beyond

Photo: Courtesy of ThisisEngineering RAEng

Trena Wilkerson

President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

As a high school math teacher, I was always excited about starting the new school year. It brought hope of what was to be for me and my new students. I found joy and comfort in setting up my calendar, getting to know my students, and even buying new school supplies. 

As I think about our teachers today, and the daily challenges and uncertainty they face, I want them to know they are supported, we are listening to them, and we are on this journey together.

During a crisis

My journey as National Council of Mathematics (NCTM) president began as COVID-19 was gaining steam. As schools stopped all in-person meetings, we worked hard to support all math teachers. 

We were all struggling. When I’ve talked with teachers, they’ve told me about their desire to continue learning, growing, and refining their craft in this new setting and situation. Teachers are not only eager to use new and different tools and strategies, but they are also thinking about how to engage students as they learn meaningful and useful math, how to support their students’ learning, and how to better understand student thinking while so many are learning from home. 

Teachers have been and continue to be innovative, responsive, and resilient during these unprecedented times. We are all working collectively to ensure each and every student has access to high-quality math instruction. 

An opportunity

NCTM and our teachers are looking to make the current challenges an opportunity to increase our focus on building resilient learners, through attention to creating a positive identity for all students. We as teachers are always looking to foster the wonder, joy, and beauty of math in our own learning, and to engage our students, families, and communities. 

One challenge we have is that the learning of math is not equitable. NCTM has identified concrete steps for real change that include creating equitable structures and support for students. Investing in teaching, empowering teachers, and engaging students in rigorous learning are essential. 

Our time with students is likely to be limited, so using the time we have to help students understand how math helps them understand the world around them is urgent. Teachers, students, and families need to be supported to ensure this happens.

As we begin this school year, each experience will be an important part of the journey. Although we know it will be difficult and unusual at times, NCTM encourages teachers to remember they are not alone on this journey. 

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