NCTM 2016 Annual Meeting: San Francisco

Posted on: April 17th, 2016 by jnovakowski

Last week I spent three days in San Francisco at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting and Exposition with over 9000 math educators from around the world. I had been invited to speak on some of the professional learning project we have been doing in Richmond for a new strand in the conference called, “Building Capacity: Personal and Collective Professional Growth” and was excited to engage in my own professional learning and to connect with educators I have met through the #MTBoS (MathTwitterBlogoSphere). If you are curious about what a program looks like for a conference this size, you can view it online HERE.


I attended the opening keynote by Dr. Eric Jolly where he wove a Cherokee basket as he delivered his keynote – fun to watch the ┬ábasket come together. There were some important messages about caring for all of our students embedded in his talk – “Help our children see all of the possibilities in themselves” and with the basket as metaphor for a sense of self – “The inside of the basket needs to the same as the outside to be strong.”


During my session on Thursday, I shared the work from our district around the Reggio-Inspired Mathematics collaborative professional inquiry project which is supported by the BCAMT as well as the Place-Based Mathematics professional inquiry project at Byng, supported by the NOII-AESN. Attendees at my session were from all across Canada, the states from Hawaii to Connecticut and from Singapore. More information about my session is featured HERE. I uploaded my presentation to slideshare and it can be viewed HERE.


I was fortunate to attend sessions that inspired my thinking – thanks to Jessica Shumway, Graham Fletcher, Elham Kazemi, Sherry Parrish, Robert Kaplinsky, Andrew Stadel, Kaneka Turner, Brian Bushart and Tracy Zager. I made lots of connections to our BC curriculum and was reminded multiple times how privileged we are to teach here – to have autonomy around how we enact the curriculum in our classrooms. This is not the case in so many jurisdictions around the world where “programs” and “pacing guides” and “packets” and “testing” are what teachers talk about.

Highlights of the conference for me were the IGNITE talks on Friday morning and the ShadowCon talks on Friday evening before I flew home. The videos of the Ignite talks will be posted on the NCTM site or Math Forum site soon and those from ShadowCon16 will be posted HERE.

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I also stood in a very long line to hear Jo Boaler speak – it was great to see so many educators listening to her messages. You can find out more HERE.

Jo Boaler has rock start status in the math world - hundreds lined up, so many took photos with her, book signings, etc

Jo Boaler has rock start status in the math world – hundreds lined up, so many took photos with her, book signings, etc

I was also fortunate to go out for dinner with Marian Small on Thursday evening – lots of nuggets of wisdom in our discussions over delicious Italian food.


Ten takeaways from my NCTM 2016 experience:

1. Our children need to see all in the possibilities in themselves.

2. Numberlines for the win!

3. There needs to be joy in professional learning.

4. What structures are in place in our schools for us to learn together?

5, We need more high-five moments in math class!

6. We need to spend more time helping students to consolidate their thinking.

7. All students have ideas about every problem.

8. Finger perception and discrimination is important.

9. Provide students with room to explore, play and experience joy in math.

10. Make sure we’re inviting all children to the “math party”.


I feel so “filled up” and inspired and have lots of ideas swirling in my head. I would like to thank the RTA for the major conference funding that helped to fund my attendance at this conference.

So much work goes into a conference this size and I am so appreciative of the NCTM team that pulls this off each year! It was so great connecting to and talking with so many passionate math educators from around the world – so much positivity and optimism around math and for finding ways for all of our students to be part of the math party.


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