A plethora of math instructors hailing from all areas of Mississippi took a small break from their lesson plans and traveled to MSMS to attend the annual Mississippi Math Teacher Conference October 12-13.
The Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics(MCTM)—its members consisting of Mississippi teachers from kindergarten through college—works to ensure that the best ideas are available to teachers, so they can provide a quality education for students. Mrs. Lauren Zarandona (better known as Mrs. Z), a member of the board, was appointed to host this year’s conference with the help of other MSMS faculty and staff.
At the conference, teachers moved from session to session, which were led by fellow teachers or consultants and ranged from things such as new teaching strategies and grading techniques to workshops on manipulatives and technology trainings.
Dr. Clifton Wingard, an MSMS math teacher, led one of the sessions for the conference.
“Whenever I’m presenting in a conference like this, I’m thinking of the participants as colleagues, but I’m also thinking of them in a student role,” he said. “Frequently, I’m sharing something that I have done with students. I also try to relate to the teachers by preparing for the students’ response to the concepts and activities that I’m presenting.”
Throughout the different sessions, teachers learned different strategies to get students involved in the lesson that is being taught and to help them better understand it.
Alisha Gibson, an instructor from Jackson Public School District, said she gained a lot of insight from the conference. “One of the things I took away from this conference was about meaningful mathematical discourse and giving our students the opportunity to share their ideas,” Gibson said. “Ultimately, that is one of the areas that is beneficial to me as a high school teacher because it gives me the opportunity to help increase their learning by allowing them to collaborate with each other.”
One of the central goals of the conference was to bring people with common interests and professions together to collaborate to better mathematics in education. Kayton Barnes, an instructor from the University of Mississippi, gave her opinion on the networking opportunities the conference offered.
“It’s a really good time to meet other math teachers, get ideas from them and even share resources and collaborate with other people throughout the year,” Barnes said.
The theme for the event was “We’re All in Math Together: Collaborating for Success.”
“I came up with ‘We’re All in Math Together’ because that is my philosophy,” Zarandona said. “I think that I work with my students, and they work with me and each other; I work with other teachers, and I wanted that to be the emphasis of the conference.”
However, she did not think of the entire theme by herself. “I was telling Mr. Crowson about the theme, and he goes, ‘Look, what you could do is add this idea: Collaborating for Success.’ The second half of the title was his, so it was a collaboration to come up with it,” she explained.
Hosting the event was stressful but rewarding for Zarandona. “I just want to teach…. But, seriously, I’m glad we were able to do this as an outreach activity,” she concluded.