This blog post is being written from Tucson, Arizona, where Tiffany Friesen, Paul Reimer, and I are attending the annual conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. The approximately 600 men and women attending this conference are almost exclusively university professors along with their graduate students, and, of course, their research interest is mathematics education. Last year was the first time I attended this conference, which I did together with Tiffany, and it was here that we for the first time met Katy Ulrich, Andy Norton, Amy Hackenberg, Eric Tillema, Jay Wilkins, and Beth MacDonald. While meeting six people at a conference might not seem like such a big deal, for me it was monumental and was the beginning of the fulfillment of a dream that is an essential part of the vision for the AIMS Center for Mathematics and Science Education.
From the early thinking about the Center, there was the hope, maybe it was a dream, that perhaps one day we would not only be translating research, but would be interacting with the researchers. That dream is coming true! That meeting a year ago at PME led to Katy Ulrich, Andy Norton, and Beth MacDonald, each at different times during this past spring, coming to California to meet with us at the Center. It gets even better. Three weeks ago, Dr. Les Steffe, Katy and Andy’s major professor on their doctoral programs at the University of Georgia, came to spend several days with us to talk about his research program and to help us to think about how we might go about translating that research. His willingness to connect with us, to share his thoughts with us, and to give his affirmation and support for what we are doing is priceless.
Now, here in Tucson, a year after first meeting Katy, Andy, Amy, Eric, Jay, and Beth, we met Ron Tzur, another former doctoral student of Steffe’s who is at the University of Colorado and who, together with two of his own doctoral students, made conference presentations involving research that is building on the work of Dr. Steffe. As part of their work, Dr. Tzur and his students are building a model for translating their research into practice. They have welcomed us to spend some time with them in Denver beginning this next spring to observe their work and to think with them about how their work and what they are learning might inform and support what we are doing at the Center. We are tremendously encouraged by the involvement of, and our connection with, these researchers. What an honor to have them working with us to help us more deeply understand their work and for them to think with us about translating their work into classroom practice. It’s a dream that is coming true!