We are happy to announce the creation of the North Carolina Network of Math Teachers' Circles (NCNMTC), a statewide network of mathematics teachers and faculty. As part of this network, Math Teachers’ Circles around the state will provide an ongoing way for teachers and professors to stay connected around mathematics.
What are Math Teachers’ Circles?
Math Teachers’ Circles (MTCs; www.mathteacherscircle.org) are professional communities of K-12 teachers and higher education faculty who meet regularly to work on rich mathematics problems and informally discuss problems of practice. MTCs are a key part of our vision in North Carolina for building a K-20 community of mathematics professionals committed to fostering a love for and understanding of mathematics among all students.
MTCs vary in size, but on average have about 15-20 teacher members. North Carolina’s MTC’s will welcome all K-12 teachers. Each group also includes mathematics department faculty from a college or university, or other professional mathematicians from academia or industry.
What happens at a Math Teachers’ Circle meeting?
Most MTCs meet six or seven times each school year. Meetings last two to three hours and include a meal, a math session, and discussion time devoted to problems of practice and topics such as equity. Math sessions are not lectures, but rather, highly interactive mathematical explorations typically led by a mathematics professor or co-led by a teacher and a professor.
To get a sense of what a math session is like, we recommend checking out one of the videos at http://www.mathteacherscircle.org/resources/video-library/. Joshua Zucker’s “Introduction to Problem Solving” is a great place to start. You also might enjoy Zucker’s short article on the philosophy of MTCs, “Be Less Helpful” (http://tinyurl.com/BeLessHelpful).
How do I get involved in a Math Teachers’ Circle?
You can learn more about our network and attend a mock circle session at the fall NCCTM conference in Greensboro. Please contact Nathan Borchelt firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining a meeting near you, or starting a new circle.
In addition to regular members, each MTC also needs a leadership team with two K-12 teachers and one or two higher education faculty. If you would like assistance finding higher education faculty for your leadership team, please feel free to contact Sloan Despeaux at email@example.com.
What additional support is available for Math Teachers’ Circles in North Carolina?
MTCs started in 2006 at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM; www.aimath.org). Since then, AIM has worked with teams of teachers and professors around the country to start more than 80 MTCs in 37 states. Through the Math Teachers’ Circle Network (www.mathteacherscircle.org), AIM provides planning guides, seed grants, mathematical materials, a semi-annual newsletter, and other resources.
To help support the development of MTCs in North Carolina, AIM can provide virtual assistance as needed from MTC Network staff and mentors (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org). In particular, AIM can put you in touch with experienced organizers from around the country. Starting in January 2016, AIM will also provide additional planning support and seed funding to selected groups with a complete leadership team. Applications are available at www.mathteacherscircle.org/start-a-circle/.
We hope you will consider joining this effort to grow Math Teachers’ Circles throughout North Carolina!