Reflections: That’s SUM Conference, Alright!

Reflections is a monthly column for teachers, by teachers on topics of interest to mathematics educators: reflections on classroom experiences, professional development opportunities, resource reviews, and more. If you are interested in sharing your own ideas with mathematics educators in the province (and beyond), consider contributing to this column! Contact us at

That’s SUM Conference, Alright!
Sharon Harvey

I am currently serving my first year as treasurer of the Saskatchewan Math Teachers’ Society (SMTS). Over the past year, I have learned so much about what the SMTS is and what the SMTS does. I have also learned that some of you—our members and readers—have some misconceptions about the SMTS.

We started The Variable as one of the ways to address this. We wanted to make sure that you knew how to contact us, what we were working on, and to keep the lines of communication open with Saskatchewan teachers and learners of mathematics. And so, for this month’s edition of Reflections, I decided that I would take the time to address some of these misconceptions (myths) head-on. Hopefully, this will help to complete your picture of the SMTS, as it did mine!


Myth: SMTS is STF

Truth: The SMTS is a Professional Growth Network (PGN) that operates under the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF).  What’s a PGN? According the STF Professional Growth Networks administration manual (p. i),

[Professional growth] networks support professional growth and lifelong learning of teachers through networking, communications, innovative professional growth opportunities and sharing of promising practices and resources related to specialized are of practice or interest in education.

While we do get some funding and lots of support from the STF, we are not the STF.


Myth: SMTS is for post-secondary students or early-career teachers only

Truth: SMTS does serve post-secondary students and early-career teachers, but not exclusively: We aim to support all teachers and all learners of mathematics. Our door is open to anyone who wants to learn mathematics, teach mathematics, or share their experiences with mathematics teaching and learning! More specifically, we plan the annual Saskatchewan Understands Mathematics (SUM) conference and publish our monthly periodical, The Variable, with teachers of all grades and experience levels in mind.


Myth: SMTS is not affiliated with NCTM

Truth: The SMTS is an NCTM Affiliate.

In case you aren’t familiar with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which is based in the United States, it is the largest mathematics education organization in the world. The NCTM supports teachers and learners of mathematics in many ways, with 80,000 members and more than 230 Affiliates throughout the United States and Canada. The NCTM offers many services, from hosting conferences and workshops large and small, to offering scholarships, answering your questions at Dr. Math, and much more!

NCTM Affiliates—which include the SMTS—are independent organizations that have goals that align with the mission of the NCTM. If you are registering for an NCTM membership, be sure to support the SMTS by noting your affiliation during registration.


Myth: SMTS serves teachers only

Truth: Our vision is to support both the teaching and learning of mathematics in Saskatchewan. As such, we offer two major events throughout the year: the Saskatchewan Understands Math (SUM) Conference and Saskatchewan Math Challenge (SMC). SUM conference is an event for K-12 mathematics educators who are interested in curriculum, instruction, assessment, number sense, technology, and more. For (school-age) learners of mathematics, the SMTS has hosted the Saskatchewan Math Challenge. The day included activities and challenges that allowed students to engage with each other and with mathematics in new, exciting ways.


Myth: SMTS is SUM

Truth: SUM is a conference that is hosted by the SMTS. It stands for Saskatchewan Understands Mathematics. The SMTS executive plan, organize, and host the conference to give our members the opportunity to network, share, and learn together.


Myth: SUM is for [insert teaching level] teachers/specialists only

Truth: SUM is for anyone who has an interest in learning more about the teaching and learning of mathematics. We welcome teachers, post-secondary students, consultants, and leadership to our conference. This two-day event is packed with amazing keynotes, fabulous session presenters, and vendors.

There are sessions relevant to teachers of all levels, from K-12. This year, for instance, at SUM 2016, you can learn to code with your elementary students, or facilitate great group work with your middle years, or investigate responsiveness in your secondary class, or learn about a group of leaders in FNIM work, and much more. There is something for everyone.


To summarize, the SMTS is a vibrant group of teachers who want to help you achieve your goals in math education. I hope that unpacking these myths has allowed you to learn more about what we do for Saskatchewan teachers and learners of mathematics. If you have still have any questions, however, please don’t hesitate to contact us. But next time you hear one of these myths, you can help us out: remind them that the SMTS is a PGN under the STF, an affiliate of NCTM, and hosts SMC and SUM. That’ll clear them right up!


Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. (2016). Professional Growth Networks administration manual 2016-17.

Sharon Harvey has been a teacher within the Saskatoon Public School Division for eight years. She has taught all secondary levels of mathematics, as well as within the resource program. She strives to create an inclusive and safe environment for her students.

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