Thoughts on the MCTM Mission Statement

I am the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM).  MCTM’s online communication tool is MathBits where we release new articles on the first of each month.  This year I am writing a series of 8 articles on our organizations Mission Statement.  In each article I will give a call to action for MCTM members (or really any Minnesota math teacher) based on 8 words from our mission statement.

MISSION STATEMENT: The MCTM is an organization of professionals dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of meaningful mathematics for all students by supporting educators in their efforts to improve mathematics

Linked below are the articles I wrote for MathBits at MCTM’s websie.  I’d love to hear your ideas for my future articles.  Tweet me @saravdwerf or email

Links for MCTM Mathbits articles:

  1. November 2015 – PROFESSIONALS – ‘What does it mean to be a Professional?’
    • Call to action: NCTM’s ‘Principles to Actions’ describes professionals as: In an excellent mathematics program, educators hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for the mathematical success of every student and for personal and collective professional growth toward effective teaching and learning of mathematics. Professionals who are responsible for students’ mathematics learning are never satisfied with their accomplishments and are always working to increase the impact that they have on their students’ mathematics learning. Moreover, they cultivate and support a culture of professional collaboration and continual improvement that is driven by an abiding sense of interdependence and collective responsibility.” In the article I leave you with 10, yes 10, challenges to strive to be a professional in mathematics.
  2. December 2015 – PROMOTING – ‘Promoting the right stuff’
    • Call to action:  Our position as math teachers means in the eyes of others our words and actions PROMOTE what we think about math.  Take time to clearly define what you want to promote about mathematics.  Be intentional. Read the article to see what I am promoting.  Also find out why this GIF is in the you know what you should do gif.gif
  3. January 2016 – TEACHING – Get off the Escalator!  Teaching is active and Intentional.
    • Call to action: As we enter 2016, my wish for the all teachers is that we would stop wasting time making excuses for why our students are not learning, we would not waste time wishing for students to arrive with more skills than they have. I wish we would see the assets our students do arrive with. I wish for all of us that we would actively do something different if our students are not successful.   My wish for 2016 is that all of us would ‘get off the escalator’ and make intentional choices in our teachinghalmos quote
  4. February 2016 – LEARNING  The only way to learn math is to DO math.  
    • Call to action: If we believe that we learn math by doing math then anyone could walk into our rooms on any day and see at least a portion of the lesson dedicated to all students doing math. If we take this on as a personal challenge as a teacher I am confident that the number of students LEARNING math will increase in all of our classrooms.
  5. March 2016 – MEANINGFUL Making Math Meaningful, Relavant, Significant,Worthwhile, Deep & Important
    • Call to action: It is time to make sure the mathematics we are teaching is meaningful.  Use the 5 litmus tests in this article as a lens on your work in your classroom.
  6. April 2016 – ALL Balancing the fear of ALL with the pursuit of ALL
    • Call to action:  Join me in the pursuit of ALL and balance this with permission to spend time with your family and friends at the end of the day even if that goal is not met. Keep yourself emotionally healthy so you can wake up the next day to keep working to change what you do pursuing ‘ALL’.  
  7. May 2016 – SUPPORTING ***coming soon***
    • Call to action: 
  8. June 2016 – IMPROVE ***coming soon***
    • Call to action: 
Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

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