The 15-16 school year marks my 14th year in math education in the state of Iowa. I began my career as a middle school math teacher before becoming a math instructional coach at the elementary level, and this school year will mark my fourth year as the K-8th Math Curriculum Facilitator for the Cedar Rapids School District. I support approximately 350 teachers across 21 elementary and six middle schools.
I came into education at the same time that the 2000 NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics were released. Although many teachers were invested in these standards, the instruction happening across districts, and even across classrooms within in a district, still varied considerably in both content and instructional practices. Often instructional decisions were based on the textbook series a district used, or on the personal belief system of a particular teacher or teacher team. Building upon important earlier work and research, the Iowa Core Standards for Mathematics, have supported us in working toward a more consistent mathematical experience for all students across our state. We are now able to collaborate across classrooms, districts, and even states. Our collective knowledge supports our study of how students will access the learning through rigorous experiences. These standards have called for us to move from teaching math as a set of isolated skills to supporting an understanding of math through meaningful tasks that build connections between concepts.