NCTM SD 2019 Reflection

In early April, I spent a week in San Diego for the NCSM and NCTM conferences. It’s taken me some time to gather my thoughts in writing, but here are my big takeaways from the learning!

1. I want to video (myself and others) teaching..a lot!

Dr. Ilana Horn was one of the first speakers I saw. I loved hearing about her work with MfA LA around growth for experienced math teachers. She talked about how a teacher would pose a question, that teacher’s classroom would be videotaped, and Dr. Horn’s team would share specific video clips that are related to the question asked. I especially liked the idea of targeted video study–just looking at short clips that are directly related to a teacher’s guiding question.

I felt a similar message in part of Steve Leinwand’s talk on PD. He talked about how teachers can find PD unhelpful or not useful. And among the strategies he talked about, videotaping was one.

The one-two punch of two great math leaders expressing the importance of videotaping our teaching really stuck with me and make me want to incorporate that as a regular habit for our department next year!

2. Creating inclusive math spaces is imperative. 

It really felt that NCTM was challenging us all to think deeply about diversity, equity and inclusion in the math classroom this year. I started NCTM with a pre-conference day on social justice math. We talked openly about deficit based thinking and explored the types of problems that embrace diversity and social justice issues in math class.

Two wonderful educators of color gave the opening and closing keynotes. I was blown away by all they said. Additionally, Chrissy Newell gave a great ShadowCon talk about gender diversity in mathematics, focusing on her (and her daughter’s!) #mathgals project. Dr. Talithia Williams ended the event with her powerful personal stories about being a woman of color and pursuing a career (and advanced degree) in mathematics. I can’t wait to read “Power in Number.”

3. Students (and adults) need play in math.

Two Chrises–Christopher Danielson and Chris Nho made me think deeply about the power of play in math. Christopher Danielson led on session on categorizing hexagons. My table had such a fun time coming up with names and rules, a great way to develop geometric definitions with playfulness. Additionally, Chris Nho challenged us to think: if adults continue to read outside of school with book clubs, why don’t we continue math with “Problem Clubs.” Why are kids the only ones allowed to have fun?

4. #DebateMath is everywhere!

Tweeting was abounding before and after my session on #debatemath! We were trending on Twitter!


Twitter hype aside, I really did see debate math everywhere. So many sessions talked about the need for student discourse and/or the importance of developing argumentation. Others talked about the need for clear routines for students to think critically and debate. I went to an excellent presentation by Mario Valdez where he brought his students (how cool!) to show his routines for his 5th grade students to explore and discuss challenging math problems.


Thanks to everyone who came out to the #debate math session!


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