June 2022 NCSM Insider


Message from NCSM President, Paul Gray

If You Just Listen, They’ll Tell You


I’m among friends so I can make a confession. I’m running a little behind this month. Hard to believe, I know, since I think that’s true for all of us at this time of year. We are all at different places in the summer cycle in mid-June with some of us neck-deep in summer school and summer curriculum planning while others are just wrapping up their school year with students. But one thing is universal – we are all wearing different shades of busy.

I’ll also confess that I am, by no means, ever to be considered a statistician. I can do algebra and differential calculus until the cows come home, but once you get beyond central tendency and 7th grade probability, statistics and its sidekick of probability become to me what President George Bush once described as “voodoo math.” Not to say that I haven’t tried learning statistics and probability, mind you. But when I was researching statistics for a writing project and came across the term lurking variable all I could envision was a sinister figure wearing a trenchcoat hiding around the corner of a dark alley. Felt like I needed pepper spray or something.


But one thing I do know is that this summer, while we’re going about our summer routines, there is one massive lurking variable in our midst: we are losing teachers and school leaders in droves. Mathematics teachers and leaders have heard the term “teacher shortage” since, well, Sputnik was a thing. Time was that we’d let ourselves get a little big for our britches and think that a teacher shortage meant job security and gave us license to do what we want. But this one is different. It’s an industry-wide shortage in every subject area and every grade level. And it’s not just one school in town, it’s all of them. Teachers have endured so much over the past few years they’re burned out. And it’s no wonder.


If you want to know what the problems are that are generating a teacher shortage, ask the teachers. They’ll tell you. As Peter Nulty of the National Business Hall of Fame once said, “of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable.” We must lead by listening to our teachers.


I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles by classroom teachers who are trying to make sense of some of what they are feeling and experiencing. Most teachers who stick with it do so because they genuinely care about their students. Otherwise, you don’t last long in this business. A love of mathematics only gets you so far. A high school English teacher in Indiana wrote about how teachers are feeling a sense of powerlessness because their students are still suffering from pandemic-related traumas. Some students thrived in virtual learning and others struggled. Some students had support to learn at home and some didn’t. Some students had safe family environments to weather the pandemic storm and others didn’t. Yet, we took all of these students with vastly different experiences and traumas from the pandemic, put them back in the room together, and told them to carry on with their standards-based learning. Teachers will internalize their students’ struggles because that’s what we do. And after several years of that, no wonder teachers are burning out.


As I was reading her post, it resonated with my experience working with a group of high school teachers last school year. These seasoned teachers kept asking for help motivating students. After a few stabs at it, one of the teachers said that it felt like the kids just forgot how to go to school. That’s when it dawned on all of us that while we remembered what high school was like before the pandemic, most of our students don’t. The class of 2023, who will be seniors this fall, were freshmen in the 2019-2020 school year, when we left for spring break in March and just didn’t come back. They have never experienced a “normal” pre-pandemic year of high school with its full seasons and rituals. 


As mathematics leaders, we must remember to listen to our teachers. And if we ask them, they will tell us what they need to build their resilience. For example, the theme of our next issue of NCSM Inspiration! is about supporting teachers in a time when they feel more unsupported than ever. Our NCSM board members and article contributers beautifully capture the wisdom of classroom practice. These essays portray the resilience that successful classroom teachers have always shown, particularly in these trying times. It’s well worth the read so that you’ll know what real teachers say about meaningful ways to authentically support your own teachers.


This summer and into the school year, one of our primary tasks as mathematics leaders who support teachers is going to be taking care of our teachers and helping them build resiliency. And the best way to learn how to do that in meaningful ways is to simply ask the teachers what they need and what they are feeling. They’ll gladly tell you. Now is the time to honor teachers’ voices and use the most valuable leadership skill of listening to take what they are telling us and turn it into action.


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



You won’t want to miss the 54th Annual Conference after you see the lineup of speakers. 

The full program is now available!!!

Check out the NCSM 54th Annual Conference website for an update on all of the major and spotlight speakers who will be speaking at our 54th NCSM Annual Conference in Anaheim, California!  This amazing slate of math leaders will be leading the way as we imagine, inspire, influence, and make an IMPACT!  Be sure to register and book yourhotel room so you don’t miss any of these powerful sessions.  Early Bird registration is open -  register TODAY!


Share with us on social media who you are most excited to hear speak! 

Tag us @MathEdLeaders  #NCSM22CA  #NCSMBold 


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 

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:

  • 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)
  • A blinded Word file (.docx) as above but with author information and all references to authors removed.

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


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