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The Characteristics Necessary For A Mathematics Specialist

Abstract

"Since beginning this work in 1991, I have witnessed and read about heated discussions on the evils and wonders of this "new kind of math." From school board meetings to parent e-mails to teacher remarks in the staff room, the passion brought about by discussions related to mathematics has been certainly frustrating at times since in my school role I have been a "lonely" figure-someone who is neither in an administrative position nor a teaching position. Over time, however, I have experienced an increased sense of belonging. I chalk this up to the expanded work of NCTM and the many original publications that have been created by this organization to educate and set goals for mathematics learning in our country. Conferences, workshops, on-line seminars are a few of the mediums I have used to network and grow in my position. In the last two years, I have found a true home as a Mathematics Specialist inside a district that supports a collegial band of Mathematics Specialists who can raise consciousness and improve craftsmanship within our schools, within our district, and within our state.

Two fundamental beliefs that have guided me over the years in this work are: 1) the idea that all children can and need to learn mathematics with conceptual understanding; and, 2) the idea that both adults and students construct their mathematical knowledge. Both of these beliefs are controversial and demand time to occur. In a culture where time is money, and where the national and local politics of right versus wrong guide educational policy, these beliefs can be intentionally and unintentionally trampled and disregarded. I see it as a core piece of the Mathematics Specialist's work to raise these beliefs for examination and reflection when providing professional development to educators of all types."

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