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Day 1 of NCSM

My first day of NCSM was incredible!

What is NCSM you say? NCSM stands for the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and each year they host a conference for math leaders around the country. This year is a little more special than others for them, as this is the organization's 50th anniversary. This milestone conference is happening at the beautifully constructed Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. from April 23-25, 2018.

A few months ago, I debated whether it would be "worth it" to add another organization to my resume (and have another organizational fee come out of my bank account!), even though I have friends who have been a part of this organization for years. For the past 13 years, I have been a classroom teacher, not a math coach, so part of me felt like I wouldn't truly "belong" in an organization for math leaders.

The final push for me to join NCSM was my recent transition from classroom teacher to elementary math coach. And now after one day of the face-to-face professional learning this organization provides, I can't imagine not being a part of this amazing organization.

Who should join?

While the word supervisors is included in it's title, NCSM is not an exclusive club of evaluators. In fact, I would argue that many of its members, like math coaches and curriculum coordinators, actually have nothing to do with the technical evaluation, sometimes deemed supervision, of mathematics instruction.

This organization is for math leaders-educators who are invested in building teacher capacity, teacher knowledge, and promoting the field of mathematics education-whether you are in the classroom, or removed and working with a group of teachers.

Other Major takeaways about NCSM beliefs:

NCSM believes in inclusion. Everywhere I went today, I saw smiling faces, friendly volunteers, and other conference attendees ready to engage in meaningful conversations about mathematics advancement and leadership. My thoughts about anyone not "belonging" disappeared as soon as I entered the conference space.

If the timing isn't right for you to join the conference in person, there are very active Twitter hashtags for you to follow to keep up with the highlights: #NCSM18 #NCSM

Keep reading for notes from the sessions I attended.

And be sure to come back to for tomorrow's blog about Day 2 of NCSM!


There are so many fabulous sessions to attend and so little time! To maximize my efforts, I tried to spend 20-30 minutes in the sessions on my schedule when more than one favorite occurred at the same time. Below I summarized my notes from two sessions that I attended for the longest amount of time.

There is a theme of making shifts in teaching practices.


Session 1313: Coaching That Connects Teaching Practices to Developing Students' Mathematical Proficiency

This presentation focused on Teaching Practices and making Shifts in Classroom Practice in order to promote change and student achievement.

Coaching through Teaching Vignettes

1.Coaches can create teaching vignettes, go to the presenters new book, or websites such as the Teaching Channel , to have teachers analyze a short teaching segment to identify embedded math practices.

2.After naming the practices, coaches can help teachers use a continuum (provided in their new book, Everything You Need for Mathematics Coaching, with a picture example above), to mark where they think the teacher is on this continuum (red x).

3. The Yellow Post it notes (right) are examples of different teacher moves. As a coach or other teacher leader, you can have these made ahead of time and then create an activity where teachers would need to place these teacher moves where they think they belong on the continuum.

4. After building trust with these examples, extend the learning by having teachers take a Shifts in Classroom Practice Self-Assessment (provided as one of the tools in their new book).

The presenters emphasized that this activity and this tool is not meant to be evaluative in any way. It is just a good tool to use to indicate where teachers are in their thinking about teaching math.

They also say that your teacher moves will vary depending on the day and activity, but a general rule is for teachers to "live on the right" and "vacation on the left."

Session 1534: Positive and Productive Coaching Mindsets

Presenters: Theresa A. Wills, Molly Rawding

The main takeaway I got from this session is that coaches have to differentiate just like teachers do for their students. What works in one coaching relationship, might not work for another. These presenters broke down a coaching conversation when first setting up the coaching cycle, which can be extremely helpful, especially when first transitioning into a coaching role.

Another suggestion I took away is to make sure you are sharing your beliefs with the teacher, and vice versa. Explicitly saying, "these are 3 things that are important to me" and then asking them express theirs helps set the tone and expectations of the coaching cycle without the artificial feel of norms within a traditional coaching agreement or contract.


Be sure to come back to for tomorrow's blog about Day 2 of NCSM!


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