Featured Speaker - Ed Dickey

General Session Speaker

2016 Annual AMTE Conference

Ed Dickey


Ed Dickey is a Professor of Education at the University of South Carolina and currently serves as Director of Educational Outreach and Associate Department Chair for Instruction and Teacher Education. A native of Brazil and educated in U.S. Department of Defense Schools in Europe, he received his doctoral degree from the University of South Carolina in Secondary Education with an emphasis in mathematics.

Dr. Dickey’s research interests include technology in mathematics education and the recruitment and retention of teachers. He has held several leadership positions with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics involving journals and conferences. He served as chair of the Mathematics Teacher Editorial Panel and founding chair for NCTM’s electronic journal, ON-Math . He chaired the 1999 Annual Meeting Program Committee and helped launch the High School Interactive Institute. Dr. Dickey serves on the Planning Committee for the Association of Public Land-grant Universities Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership where he also leads the Research Action Cluster on teacher recruitment.

Session Description

Rebranding the Teaching Profession: Ideas and Strategies for Effective Recruitment of Mathematics Teachers

In recent years, the teaching profession has had a public relations problem making the already difficult task of recruiting new mathematics teachers even more challenging.  Our best students receive messages that teaching might be a less than ideal profession.   The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership and others have investigated mathematics teacher recruitment and are exploring methods to portray teaching positively to attract outstanding students to mathematics teaching.  Examples and recommendations for improving your institution’s recruitment efforts and ideas for celebrating teachers and the teaching profession will be shared.

 Session Links

Questions & Answers

During Dr. Dickey's presentations, a number of participants submitted questions via the conference app. Dr. Dickey has graciously offered public answers to those questions. See below for his unedited responses.

How much were the rights to the music in the Beyoncé video? 

The rights were $1000, what Beyonce and Sony consider a “nominal” charge.  The contract is 8 pages long and the rights allow YouTube and web display but NOT TV.  We could not include the music as part of commercial TV stories.

Where is the presentation on your web site ? 

At  www.ite.sc.edu/dickey.html  or directly at  http://ed.sc.edu/ite/amte2016.pptx

What is your opinion about using Wikipedia? 

I think Wikipedia is another powerful Web 2.0 tool.  A Wiki on mathematics teacher recruitment strikes me as a valuable tool.  I chose to use Padlet because I want to have only images and links but Tumblr could have worked as would a Wiki.  Think using Wikipedia for AMTE and university faculty to address mathematics teacher recruitment as great potential.  However, I’m not sure I see that it would be effected as a direct tool for recruitment, but that might be my lack of imagination.  I’m continually amazed by what people come up with.

How can we encourage preservice students to view the teaching profession as rewarding enough to go through the cost of higher education? Although the salary of a teacher is low, what kind of factor does the unfair cost of higher education play?

I think cost is a huge factor and the problem of so many student incurring debt is even more worrisome.  Through our focus groups, we have found that messages about “making a difference” and address the love of mathematics can override the cost/low pay problem.  At the end of the recession, when we started this work, we were also hearing the attractiveness of math teaching based on job security (something that might not be true in states like California that had so many layoffs).   Federal TEACH grants ($4000 per year and $16,000 total) are worth considering and many states have forgivable loans.  I am seeing a great deal of acceptance to covering full tuition for teachers who agree to teach for a period of time (8 years in South Carolina) in schools that are experiencing the greatest shortages.

Recruiting more teachers and changing the narrative are important, but how do we address the fact that it might just be more individuals teaching 5.45 hours per day, and two-thirds of them will eventually be unlikely to recommend teaching as a career?

I have heard a litany of calls to “restructure education” since the A Nation At Risk days, but no one seems to want to reconsider the assumption that K-12 teachers are not working unless they are with children in a learning setting.  I agree that without some fundamental changes in working conditions, our gains in recruitment are likely to be offset by loses through retention.    I have used university faculty as an example of more reasonable and empowering teaching conditions.  

The improvement of recruitment and marketing and the improvement of working conditions and retention are two related but different problems. What can we do as a professional organization to work towards not only changing perceptions about teaching but also bringing about policy change in schools that can address issues that deter teachers AFTER they've been recruited?

Great point!  I think we must explore different teaching models that provide improved working conditions and publicize them.  For example the Missouri Teaching Fellows program employs a model that allow for a more attract teacher work day by having two beginning teachers at half-salary assigned to teach two sets of classes with one master teacher.  The beginning teachers are concurrently enrolled in the a master’s program for the other half of their assignment.  The net cost to the district is the same as two teachers, but the benefits are very attractive.  Finding and publicizing such models might help.

Amidst all of the rhetoric around "STEM", is there not a difference in the timing, calling, and messaging considerations for recruiting math vs. science teachers?

I would add Technology and Engineering teachers to Science.   I don’t believe there is a difference in timing since all teachers requires a college education and time is tied to enrollment in college and the K-12 school year, which is the same across disciplines.  For calling and messaging, there are certainly some commonalities.  I think “idealists” (who want to make a difference) and pragmatists (interest in salaries and careers) will respond to messages regarding of S, T, E, or M.  For those called to teach because of content, yes, messaging that addresses discipline specific items (scientific methods, robotics, coding, etc) is required but comparable to math.  The question ask is valid and best addressed through focus groups.


What do you see as the differences, challenges, or tensions (if any) between a university-wide push for branding/enrollment increases and the need for recruitment of more math teachers in teacher prep programs?

I think this push offers teacher educators an opportunity to contribute to the university mission.  The brand often includes local impact and what better way to demonstrate this than to contribute to the education of the state’s or region’s teachers.  Research institutions put great value in funded research activity, but university administrators also must convince governors and legislatures that the institution is contributing to the economic and social needs of the state.  You can’t recruit modern companies to relocate in your state if qualified workers can’t be found and if those moving there are wary of the quality of schools.

As an MTE of elementary teachers, I am consistently frustrated by the extent to which the pre- & in-service teachers I work with are systematic not recognized as STEM teachers despite the fact that ALL of them teach at least math, tech., and science. As such, for example, they are often excluded from recruitment, grant, and professional development opportunities.  What ideas do you have about changing the "brand" of elementary teachers to recognize, honor, and most importantly support the work the do within the STEM content area?

This is an excellent question and one I wished I had considered more carefully and addressed in my presentation.  I did concern myself with elementary but must admit that the focus of my work has been in the recruitment of secondary (grades 5-12) math teachers.  One of the opportunities is that at the grades k-6 level, STEM is truly integrated as mentioned in the question and not separated as it tends to be in middle and high school.  One challenge is the acuteness of the shortage in upper grades, but I think teacher specialists programs and STEM coaches (comparable to the ubiquitous literacy coaches) might serve to secure grant and PD opportunities.  Certainly the student achievement levels in elementary grade warrant attention to STEM teachers at that level.    ALSO, this is a great opportunity for branding, much the way literacy coaches have been successfully branded.  We might establish and title and job description to make this type of elementary teacher better understood and respected.

How can we use our positions in mathematics education to advocate for meaningful change in our current school systems that have institutionalized inequity?

I’m not sure we in mathematics education can impact the most significant institutionalized inequity, the disparity of income and opportunity among children and families in schools.  We can and should advocate for differential educational opportunities to address the inequality of resources.    In mathematics, we can and should ensure that each child is provided with attention and care tied to learn a subject that might provide life changing opportunities.  From the perspective of my presentation, the ability to have an impact on the lives of children who might otherwise be marginalized for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth can be a powerful motivator to pursue a career that truly matters and make a difference far more significant than conspicuous consumption of material goods.  Some young people and some older get this and pursue careers as teachers.

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