April 2022 NCSM Insider


Message from NCSM President, Paul Gray

I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy…


If you haven’t read NCTM President Trena Wilkerson’s April 2022president’s message, please do. I always enjoy Dr. Wilkerson’s monthly messages because no matter how crazy the world is, they are positive and always provoke thought for me.

So of course, we are in the midst of the spring testing and test preparation season. And that means we are, as Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias said in a most gracious Southern vernacular, busier than a one-armed paper hanger. When I think about April in public schools, “joy” isn’t the word that usually comes to mind. And that’s exactly why I needed to hear Dr. Wilkerson’s message about experiencing the joy in mathematics.


As I read her message, it made me think of the times when I’ve experienced joy in teaching and learning mathematics. Two stories that come to mind involve one where I was a student learning mathematics and another where I was a mathematics curriculum specialist learning how to present a particular workshop to a group of teachers. You’re never too young or too old to experience the joy of mathematics.


For the first story, let me take you back to Eisenhower High School in Houston, where when I was a junior in Precalculus. We had just finished a unit on graphing trigonometric functions by hand, because it was 1980-something and that’s how we rolled. My teacher, Mr. Schwabenland, handed me a Casio graphing calculator for the very first time. I was in the Gifted and Talented section of Precalculus so of course we were one of the first classes to get one (yes, tracking does that and we MUST stop that nonsense). With a little bit of poking around, I found what I now know to be the function editor and proceeded to graph several different trigonometric functions at the same time, revealing some visual displays that were a little bit chaotic. With a furrowed brow, I went back to the function editor and changed some of the numbers to make the visual display of the graphs more appealing. Rinse and repeat. Next thing you know, I had created a screen with gracefully winding and interlocking curves that revealed a beautiful aspect of mathematics. I now know that I was learning how changing parameters affects the graph of the parent sine and cosine functions. But what I knew at the time was that I was experiencing an acute joy in seeing mathematics on this new tool in my 16-year-old hand.


Fast forward to a time when, as a mathematics curriculum specialist, I sat down in a middle school mathematics workshop about proportionality. I’ve told y’all that I was a high school mathematics teacher, so I had constructed views of what mathematics is from the high school teacher perspective. What I knew about proportionality was that a proportion was two equal ratios and the way you could tell they were equal was that the cross-products were equal. Why do you need a whole institute on that? So I’m sitting in this workshop and we are looking at tables of data. The facilitator guided us through exploring patterns to find out that for every number pair, the ratio of the output value to the input value was the same. Lo and behold, we had a proportional relationship. In that one instant, the ideas of the constant of proportionality, direct variation, and equivalent ratios all coalesced into major connections and a moment where I may very well have jumped up and shouted, “hallelujah!” I don’t remember if I did or not because I was so consumed by the joy of those tight mathematical connections that I honestly don’t remember what my outward reaction was.


These are two of the stories I can tell about how I have personally experienced the joy of mathematics. Think about a time when you had a powerful learning moment that, as Marie Kondo might say, sparked joy for you. What were the key characteristics of that moment? How do those characteristics compare to the two stories above?


Experiencing the joy of mathematics isn’t something reserved for K-12 students. As mathematics leaders, we are privileged to create opportunities for teachers and administrators to experience the joy of mathematics. Personally, I’ve never experienced the joy of Pi Day because March 14 is always durign spring break in Texas. And yes, Pi Day is fun because we eat pie, but that’s sort of like doing nothing on the 3rd Monday of January but tweeting out a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a very superficial way to experience the meaning of the day and its associated content. I’m talking more about ways that we can get grown adults to roll up their sleeves and engage with meaningful mathematics. 

  • How might we weave opportunities for teachers to engage in mathematics in ways that are different than we learned as K-12 and college students when we learned the mathematics the first time?
  • How might we invite adults who do not teach mathematics (like principals, counselors, parents, or any other adult who professes how bad they are at math) to engage with mathematics in ways that help them make connections and experience joy?
  • How might we connect mathematics to current events (e.g., exponential growth rates of infectious disease, percent increases of inflation or real estate values, etc.)?

Experiencing the joy of mathematics isn’t always about play and having fun. Sometimes the joy comes through making meaningful connections that sear the learning into your brain, creating vivid memories of the exact moment when you had that a-ha. Sometimes the joy comes from the social experience of exploring mathematics alongside friends or colleagues. And sometimes the joy comes from a new tool that empowers you to see the mathematics differently. I do not recall experiencing what I would call joy from a standardized test or other high-stakes mathematical experience. Lots of emotions, for sure. But joy is not one of them. In this most stressful time of the academic year, let’s take some time to consider the joy we can find in teaching and learning mathematics.


Y’all be careful and we’ll touch base again in April.


Equity in Action: Leveraging Your Sphere of Influence

June 27-29, 2022, 8:30-4:30 EDT


Who Should Attend? Aspiring PK-16 and/or current mathematics leaders and coaches who want to:

Focus on creating equitable mathematics classrooms and structures. 

Advocate for equitable practices in mathematics teaching and learning.

Challenge unproductive beliefs through self reflection and coaching conversations.

Enhance coaching skills and grow as a professional through networking


Click HERE for more info and to register!!



Call for Manuscripts!!!!

The editors of the NCSM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership (JMEL) are interested in manuscripts! 


The editors are particularly interested in manuscripts that bridge research to practice in mathematics education leadership. Manuscripts should be relevant to our members’ roles as leaders in mathematics education, and implications of the manuscript for leaders in mathematics education should be significant. At least one author of the manuscript must be a current member of NCSM.

Categories for submissions include:

  • Case studies and lessons learned from mathematics education leadership in schools, districts, states, regions, or provinces
  • Research reports with implications for mathematics education leaders
  • Professional development efforts including how these efforts are situated in the larger context of professional development and implications for leadership practice
  • Other categories that support the NCSM vision will also be considered.

Submission Procedures 

  1. Each manuscript will be reviewed by two volunteer reviewers and a member of the editorial panel. Manuscripts should be emailed to the Journal Editors, currently Drs. Erin Lehmann and Paula Jakopovic, at [email protected] 
    Submissions should follow the most current edition of APA style and include:
  2. A Word file(.docx) with author information (name, title, institution, address, phone, email) and an abstract (maximum of 120 words) followed by the body of the manuscript (maximum of 12,000 words)
  3. A blinded Word file (.docx) as above but with author information and all references to authors removed.



NCSM Membership Rates Update

Beginning July 1, 2022, there will be one tier of membership.  The rate of $85 will include digital versions of the Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership.  The NCSM board decided to combine the digital and individual membership tiers based on member feedback and a comparison of benefits for each. 


President Paul Gray and Membership and Volunteers Coordinator Sara Frisbie discuss the new membership tier. 

We are also pleased to announce that anyone who renews their NCSM membership at the current rates between April 1 and June 30, 2022, will be entered into our Regional Raffle!  One member from each of our regions (US and Canada) and international members will win up to $200 off the registration fee of a 2022-2023 NCSM event (e.g., Annual Conference, Leadership Seminar, etc.).  Already renewed earlier in the year?  Renewing now will extend your membership an additional year at the current rates.

Please visit the Membership page of the NCSM website to renew!  We look forward to continuing our bold leadership together!


TODOS: Mathematics for ALL - TOD∀XS = was recently recognized as a Special Interest Group (SIG) of TODOS. TOD∀XS= has organized a Town Hall to welcome everyone interested in this SIG. During our gathering we will talk about Intersectionality of 2SLGBTQ+ people and Mathematical + Identities. Please, join us and contribute to this online conversation! Details are available online


Click on any image below for more info!!!!.

Latest NCSM Podcast - From Mona Toncheff, NCSM Past President & John SanGiovanni, RD for Eastern Region 2


Networking Nights with NCSM- From Jenny Novak NCSM Professional Learning Directors & Georgina Rivera 


NCSM Inspiration! - From Kim Romain and Luis Lima, NCSM Inspiration Co-Editors

NCSM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership - From Erin Lehmann & Paula Jakopovic, NCSM Journal Co-Editors


NCSM Annual Report


Regional Director Blog


\Joint Position Paper

Ross Taylor Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award

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