By Rob Lukasiak
I am humbled and excited to be writing my first message as NHTM president. To help guide me in my new role, I have been focusing on NHTM’s mission statement. In fact, I shared this focus with my fellow board members at our summer retreat where I asked them to reflect on the statement and think about how well we are aligned to it. Now, I would like to ask YOU to do the same – and hopefully, if we are using a new format for the newsletter, you may even be able to post your comments directly to this message!
Here is our mission statement:
The mission of the New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics is to provide vision and leadership in improving the teaching and learning of mathematics so that each student is ensured quality mathematics education and each teacher of mathematics is ensured the opportunity to grow professionally.
I will get the conversation started by sharing some of my own observations. First, I’m hoping that you agree that the mission statement is meant for all NHTM members. As a result, providing vision and leadership toward fulfilling this mission is our collective responsibility.
Next, while I can’t guarantee that we all have the same vision, I can at least tell you that my vision includes classrooms where students are clearly demonstrating characteristics of the 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP’s) and teachers are demonstrating characteristics of the 8 Mathematics Teaching Practices (MTP’s). My vision also includes a professional organization that is vibrant with interactions among its members where ideas, challenges, and resources are regularly exchanged.
Then I wonder how well are we doing in terms of reaching each student and each teacher? Of course, this part of the mission statement is addressing the issue of equity. I’m sure we all know how prominent and divisive this issue has been in NH over the years, yet it continues to be a serious problem. It should not be the case that the quality of a student’s mathematics education is a function of the track they are placed in, inequitable teacher assignments, or their zip code. Further, all teachers need access to quality resources, professional development, and collaboration even if their district lacks funding or if they live in a remote location.
I am proud to be a member of NHTM and to support our many efforts to improve mathematics education in NH, but we can do better – especially when it comes to how we connect and communicate as an organization. For one thing, our current newsletter format is ineffective and outdated. While a great deal of time and effort goes into creating the newsletter, we know that very few people actually read it! These days, a quarterly, one-directional communication tool cannot compete with “interactive”, “real time”, social media formats like Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say, we need to modernize, especially if we expect to reach more teachers and to attract new members.
So, I guess you could say that I am on a mission – to improve our ability to connect and rely on each other – to strengthen and widen our professional community. A modernization and expansion of our communication tools is necessary for this to happen. I invite you to share your ideas and experiences to help us move forward in this area. Let’s work together to reach more teachers – physically, virtually, or otherwise, so we can ultimately improve the mathematics learning experience for each and every student in NH!