During a time in which our collective attention should be focused on the dawning of summer, a time of revitalization and renewal in our work, I find myself in writing this column once again seeking words of hope and reassurance in an increasingly difficult world. In the past several weeks, we have once again seen attacks in our schools, universities, and community places of worship grounded in hate and divisiveness. AMTE stands with our community when we are attacked, whether those attacks are intellectual or physical. In particular, our hearts turn to our colleagues at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, whose faculty have long been represented within our AMTE family.
I was at my computer as the Charlotte attacks unfolded, watching for news in social media of my math ed friends and colleagues there and hoping for their safety. It is always challenging to find the right words in the aftermath of such horrors. In doing so, I try to return to what is most important about our professional community within AMTE: that we not only hold a set of values about mathematics teacher education, but also that we express those values in the context of all manner of challenges. Through our work, AMTE advances the social good, advocates for inclusiveness rather than divisiveness, and stands tall when those values are challenged. Today, we are #CharlotteStrong. And the next time, the context and the hashtag will be different. But it will always represent our underlying commitment as an organization to build a better, more just, and more equitable world through our work.
In that spirit, I’d like to share a few updates about our work with AMTE and ask for your thoughts and feedback.
Broadening Our Reach
In my March column, I shared with you our strategic priorities for the AMTE year. One of these strategic priorities focuses on broadening participation in AMTE, and inviting constituencies that may not be well represented to our table. As a part of this initiative, I’ve been visiting with our AMTE state affiliates at their annual meetings and engaging them in discussions about who we should bring to the table, and how we should go about doing that. I’ve heard some fabulous ideas in my visits to Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, and Alabama, as well as talks at NCTM and NCSM, and I look forward to as many more of those visits as schedules allow!
But I’d also like to hear your thoughts. Who should we reach out to in a more focused way to be a part of our work strengthening mathematics teacher education? In my visits, I’ve heard suggestions for more involvement from two-year college faculty, coaches and district personnel, professional developers in regional settings (such as Intermediate School Districts or Regional Service Centers – these names vary by state), and mathematicians. I’ve heard discussions about increasing the diversity of the people who regularly attend AMTE, as well as the diversity of university contexts represented at our table (research-intensive as compared to teaching-intensive). Who would you like to see and hear from at our 2020 conference in Phoenix to broaden our reach? Please post your suggestions to the AMTE Facebook page or tag us (@AMTENews) on Twitter with your ideas.
Continuing the Discussion of Equity
At the 2019 Annual Conference, our opening session focused on professional journeys related to equity. We noted at the time that we wanted that session to be the start of a broader conversation about equity. As such, we’d like to invite people to continue that conversation via our Facebook group. In particular, we’d like to hear:
- What aspects of equity in our work would you like to see AMTE address?
- What is your professional journey related to equity? How can AMTE support you on that path?
Please take a moment to share via our Facebook thread. If you’d like to submit a comment and remain anonymous, I’m happy to accept those stories confidentially via email (email@example.com) and post them with permission.
Living Our Values
Finally, I have the privilege of representing AMTE at the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) meetings twice a year in Alexandria, VA. CBMS is an umbrella organization made up of the leaders of 18 professional societies related to mathematics. We discuss issues that cross our organizations, and ways in which we can advance mathematics education collectively through our efforts.
One topic that we have discussed at the last two meetings is harassment and discrimination. These discussions led to our establishment of a confidential harassment reporting mechanism launched at the 2019 Annual Conference. Another step we are considering taking is the establishment of an AMTE Ombudsperson, who would be a confidential resource for reporting instances of intellectual or physical harassment or bullying, and any other equity- and climate-related issues in the context of AMTE’s work. We want to continue to grow our ability to make AMTE a welcoming and safe place for all.
If you have thoughts about the idea of an AMTE Ombudsperson – or a recommendation for a good candidate to serve in that role – I’d love to hear from you.
Now, as summer is now officially upon us, I’d like to encourage you all to take some time to lay down your burdens even if it’s just for a moment, relax, recharge, and make space both to process the academic year that was and to channel your creative energies for the next one to come.
Yours in service, Mike