This week my team is together in San Antonio, TX at the NCTM National Conference (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). The conference provides teachers with a plethora of seminar choices and a variety of topics. It is a great place for teachers to interact with other teachers from around the nation and exchange ideas about what is working for them with their students.
Each of us on the team has been a classroom teacher, but as we all know – things change! The resources that teachers and students have access to have changed. The kinds of careers that we prepare our students for is changing, and each generation of student brings with it new qualities and identifiers. Contrary to popular belief, the math has not changed. But, the way we understand children’s mathematics is changing. That is, we are benefiting from the research of others and modern technology to learn more about the physiological, psychological, and cognitive development of children and how they make sense of number.
AIMS is keeping up with the changes without giving up on the older, viable resources. By keeping ourselves immersed in the world of the teacher and engaged in the world of research regarding children’s understandings of number, we are able to partner with teachers and researchers in educating our students. We view our role in the partnership as one of a translator. A translator needs to be proficient in both languages of interest.
By focusing on the translation of education research to the classroom, we are able to weave together research and action in a way that is beneficial to the classroom teacher and different from the pressures felt by either the researcher or the teacher. The essential aspects of the mathematics of students must be understood deeply by the teacher so that s/he may seamlessly weave between work with the individual and the class as a whole. Therefore, the translator(s) must maintain the integrity of the research, but make decisions about the language and level of detail to use in order to be accessible to the teacher. The translation of research to classroom practice may well be the missing link to true equity in access.