Election 2017: Michael Steele

Past Participation and Involvement in AMTE and/or AMTE Affiliates(s)

I have been a member of AMTE since 2005, participating in all annual meetings since then and presenting at several.  I currently serve the AMTE Board as a Member-at-Large and liaison to the Professional Learning Division in the second year of a three-year term. I co-authored the Executive Summary for the AMTE Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics with Tim Hendrix and Marilyn Strutchens, and currently lead the Board-appointed Standards Dissemination Task Force. I am currently serving as the president of the Wisconsin AMTE affiliate (WI AMTE, chartered 2017). I served as a member of the inaugural AMTE Professional Development committee from 2012-2015. I have been invited to present AMTE webinars in 2013 with Sandra Crespo (Mathematics Methods and the Common Core: Approaches to Modeling and Learning the Standards for Mathematical Practice), in 2015 with Melissa Boston and Fred Dillon (The NCTM Principles to Actions Toolkit), and in 2017 with Nicole Rigelman (Exploring the AMTE Standards: Key Themes in the Grade-Band Elaborations).

What qualities do you bring to the AMTE President-Elect Position?

I have spent the past 12 years as a mathematics teacher educator preparing teacher candidates, developing and delivering teacher professional development, and supporting mathematics education doctoral students. My research, teaching, and service has focused on the work of strengthening secondary mathematics teaching through the development and use of research-based instructional practices. As a part of the team that developed the Principles to Actions Toolkit for NCTM and an author of the middle grades Taking Action volume that followed, I have worked to develop ways in which we in mathematics education can take meaningful research findings and translate them into actionable and accessible teaching practices for early-career and veteran teachers alike. I have served as co-PI on two NSF-funded grants that have sought to develop and study the impact of professional development materials for teachers: one focused on reasoning-and-proving and the other focused on mathematics classroom discourse. Both projects have professional development volumes published or in press. I currently direct the Milwaukee Master Teacher Partnership, an NSF Noyce-funded project serving high school mathematics and science teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools. This effort seeks to provide master teachers with opportunities to engage in small-scale action research and earn microcredentials that recognize their learning. The project also supports the teachers in engaging their colleagues in action research around similar topics and designing professional development experiences to scale up learning. Additionally, I co-directed the Common Core High School Mathematics Leadership Project, which brings together secondary teachers from nine districts in southeast Wisconsin to study mathematics content related to the Common Core State Standards, current research-based instructional practices as embodied in NCTM’s Principles to Actions, and to develop teacher leadership in their district.

In conjunction with my colleague DeAnn Huinker, we have also developed new ways to support sustained university-based teacher learning with the goal of inaugurating a new generation of mathematics teacher educators in our region. This has culminated in the Pathways to Mathematics Teacher Leadership project, an innovative graduate program that affords teachers and teacher leaders the opportunity to pursue a 15-credit Graduate Certificate in mathematics teacher leadership, a full Masters in Mathematics Teacher Leadership, or a Doctorate in Urban Education with a Mathematics Education specialization. This program allows teachers and teacher leaders pursuing multiple graduate pathways to collaborate in a cohort-based experience that affords rich connections and allows for the differentiation of learning opportunities related to the pathways. This project has resulted in over 25 new Masters students and 10 new doctoral students.

In addition to professional development efforts for in-service teachers, I have devoted significant time and energy to strengthening initial secondary mathematics teacher preparation. I have served as the director of the secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs at both Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, designing and refining learning sequences, interfacing with schools regarding student teacher placements, and ensuring that the current canon of teacher education at each institution reflects research-based best practice. I currently serve as the Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at UWM, where we are reconceptualizing our work in combining with the Department of Exceptional Education to form a new Department of Teaching and Learning. Our goal in developing this new structure is to better integrate general and special education content to prepare current and future teachers for the 21st century schooling landscape.

Along with my expertise in teacher preparation and professional development, my grant and professional writing history shows that I have strong collaborative skills. I have been a co-PI or senior staff member on ten major grants over a twelve-year professional career, nearly all of which represented cross-institution collaborations with partners from teacher education, curriculum and instruction, mathematical sciences, and administrative leadership. Nearly all of these projects have required interfacing and partnering with districts to both advance research agendas and further their work of improving the quality of mathematics education in their schools.

As President of AMTE, I would bring significant experience in research, teaching, and service focused on mathematics teacher education. My experiences as a program director at two institutions and department chair shows that I am capable of leading and innovating, balancing the needs of multiple and often competing stakeholders, and providing leadership vision. My track record as a member of the AMTE board and as the leader of the Standards Dissemination Task Force demonstrates that I am able to work productively and collaboratively with colleagues to further the goals of AMTE, both within and outside the Association.

What three goals do you think AMTE should make a priority?

  1. The publication of the AMTE Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics was an historic watershed moment for our association. I believe that our first goal for the next several years for AMTE should be to support our membership, as well as mathematics teacher educators who may not currently be our members, in implementing the standards. Achieving this goal would involve supporting mathematics teacher educators in thinking about how to evolve their courses, programs, and policies to more robustly address the vision of a well-prepared beginning teacher that is described in Standards. Meeting this goal would also suggest the need for discussion of best practices across programs, further elaborations and illustrations of the Standards in action, and fostering a research agenda among AMTE members to study aspects of the implementation of the Standards across multiple and varied teacher preparation contexts. Movement towards this goal would substantively involve the new Professional Learning Division of AMTE to coordinate and support a multi-modal set of learning experiences for members. These experiences may include webinars about aspects of the Standards and their implementation, calls for research and commentary articles describing Standards implementation, an ongoing focus on the Standards in Annual Conference presentations, support for affiliates in engaging their membership around the Standards, and additional smaller-scale in-person learning opportunities for members to dig more deeply into the Standards and discuss implementation strategies and candidate outcomes. AMTE must learn from the lessons of their sibling organizations over the years of both more and less successful rollouts of standards documents and strive to position Standards for the best chance of meaningful integration into the work of preparing teachers of mathematics. This is, without question, an ambitious goal that would unfold over a number of years and require commitment, resources, and broad collaboration. But I believe it is a critical goal for the future of AMTE’s work.
  2. The field of mathematics education faces a number of challenges at this moment of time in the broader societal and policy environment. At present, mathematics teachers (and teachers in general) are a predominantly White, middle-class population. Rhetoric over the past decade has increasingly sought to de-professionalize the work of teaching, putting increased strain on a system and population that desperately needed to diversify its ranks. A second goal that I envision for AMTE is to meaningfully undertake a public relations campaign with the aim of re-professionalizing the work of teaching and specifically attracting a more diverse mathematics teacher workforce. Such a campaign would have the greatest probability of success as a partnership between mathematics education organizations such as NCTM, AMTE, TODOS, the Benjamin Banneker Association, MAA, and AMS. The campaign would have two main thrusts: to portray the work of teaching mathematics as an honorable profession vital to the future of our society, and to specifically target historically marginalized populations that are underrepresented in mathematics teaching. AMTE’s role in such a campaign would be to shape messaging related to the rigor of mathematics teacher preparation at all levels and to convert our research-based understandings of the knowledge needed for teaching mathematics into meaningful messages for the public. The membership of AMTE would then be engaged in making use of campaign materials to aggressively recruit and retain more, and more diverse, teachers of mathematics through university-based work and partnerships with school districts to strengthen the PK-12–to–teaching pipeline. There are many pieces already in place for such a campaign, most notably the work of W. Gary Martin, Howard Gobstein, and Ed Dickey (among others) in the context of the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership. The messaging in such a campaign must be meaningfully different from previous work in the field, integrating narrative about what it means to know, do, and teach mathematics from the non-White perspective.
  3. A third goal that connects the previous two is for AMTE to pursue greater visibility in advocacy for public policy related to mathematics teacher education. Since our humble beginnings in 1991, AMTE has grown significantly and is an emerging voice in the national discussion about mathematics education. The reorganization of AMTE in 2016-2017 was an important step in helping the association grow and be more responsive to the needs of its membership. However, AMTE still has much that it could do to amplify calls for stronger policy and more resources related to mathematics teacher education. AMTE is positioned in a unique and strong position to advocate for the knowledge base related to mathematics teacher education in ways that influence public policy. Research briefs that clearly communicate the value of teacher preparation, professional development, and elementary mathematics specialists could be written for public, non-education audiences. Tools could be created and provided for mathematics teacher educators to contact their representatives about teacher education issues, along with calls to action at both the national and state level through AMTE to better mobilize its membership as advocates for sound education policy. A stronger policy track could be created at the Annual Conference (expanding from the fine tradition of the Advocacy Breakfast) that would support the development of policy advocates and leaders within the AMTE membership.

Taken together, these three goals will build on AMTE’s standing in the fields of mathematics and mathematics education. They address the most critical issues facing mathematics teacher education and help us to continue to lead in the areas of access, equity, and empowerment. The current policy and social climate surrounding education in general, and mathematics education in particular, compels us to place these ideas at the center of our work. Signaling our commitment to these tasks and engaging our membership in meaningful work around them has the potential to expand our reach with mathematics teacher educators and grow our organization, and make a meaningful difference in the mathematics education experiences of thousands of students who are influenced by our decisions as we prepare and support teachers of mathematics.

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