A year ago I was at a summer boot camp to prepare us for our first year of teaching, and Sam came in and was gushing about this “Twitter Math Camp” he had just come back from. It was part of his introduction to the Math Twitter Blogosphere. He sold me on the #MTBoS (even if I wasn’t half as active as I wanted to be this year) and convinced me that I should check out Twitter Math Camp the following summer.
Holy shit you guys, it’s awesome.
Three and a half days of hanging out with other math teachers geeking out over mathematics and pedagogy. There is such an incredible energy and attitude in the air. The only time I’ve ever felt that same kind of energy was when I went to an anime convention in Baltimore several years ago. Everyone is so overwhelmingly excited just to be there talking about this stuff. And unlike the anime convention, I’ll be able to use most of this stuff when I start teaching in a few weeks. Absolutely insane, but in the best possible way.
I’m not entirely sure how, but it’s been a week since I left Jenks, Oklahoma to continue my Great American Adventure. I think I’ve now had enough time to assimilate a lot of what I saw and did there, so I’m going to write out some of my bigger take-aways from the weekend. Note that none of these are exactly earth-shattering, and are probably done much better and more eloquent service by others, but it’s things I want to remind myself of throughout the year as I see things online.
* Measuring Up – There seemed to be a theme this year in several of the blog posts I skimmed about how TMC has a habit of making us all feel like terrible teachers. You see all these great things that other teachers are doing and think “Wow, I’m not doing any of that, they’re so much more inspired than me, I’m a fraud.” I was there at times too. Listening to how Glenn and Jonathan each teach Algebra 2 I thought that they were not only better teachers than me, but also considerably smarter. Anna and Kathryn‘s interactive notebooks are monuments of organization and dedication. It’s really easy to be intimidated (and to want to try ALL THE THINGS, but I’ll get to that in a second), especially just coming out of my first year of teaching. So I made a conscious choice halfway through to stop comparing myself. I have to trust, day to day, that I’m doing as much as I can, and stop trying to measure up to teachers with several years experience. It helped me to stop wasting time beating myself and start absorbing more and more and more ideas.
* Trying ALL THE THINGS – One look at my Netflix queue makes it abundantly clear that my goals far outstrip reality. If I ever figure out how to stop time I MIGHT catch up before 2050. But probably not. Same applies to all the awesome ideas I got at TMC 14. If I had another two years before September I might have all the cool new things implemented (assuming I ignored the aforementioned Netflix queue). Obviously that’s not going to happen, so I’m going to pick two things to change in my classroom. The first is a serious, serious focus on nixing of tricks. I got through all of last year without ever saying the words “FOIL”. I want to do the same this year with more tricks, specifically those around fractions. The second is going to be organizing my Alg 2 curriculum like Glenn does, with the vertex form of all the functions. It was neat and orderly and I got it. I want to try to do my homework like Kathryn’s Math Maintenance, but I acknowledge planning a week ahead of time may not happen.
* You Do You – Dan Meyer used the phrase “Be Selfish” during his keynote about the MTBoS, and I know that some people took exception to it. Obviously if everyone is selfish, it’s real damn hard to share. But I’ve come to realize (and this ties into the “ALL THE THINGS”) that my personality is just not built for certain things. It’s taken me three days to write the blog post you are currently reading, so my blogging endeavours will be limited. 180 Blogging sounds awesome, but unless I make it a Tumblr it’s never going to happen, and even then it probably won’t. Twittering is more my speed because I have a short attention span. And the trick is to not feel guilty about that. Part of me thinks blogging more last year would have helped, because I would have had an outlet and professional support for the BANANAS shit that was going down. But I also worried it would have just been way too negative. I felt guilty for not blogging more, and for not being more active in the awesome community. But at the end of the day, I have enough guilt because of all the things I’m not doing right in my classroom, I don’t need to add to it by not blogging more often. At the end of all of this, I have to get something out of this, and if that’s just blog-surfing that’s fine, and if that’s just tweeting that’s fine, and if that’s just blogging about every class I teach every day then that’s fine too.
* I’m all about that Bass – No Treble.
* All my tweeps in the house say YEAH – My Professional Learning Network just quadrupled in size, and with school three weeks out I’m already seeing so many awesome ideas on the interwebs. Seriously folks, I just read about a lesson on ratios involving Mullets. You can’t make this shit up. Y’all are awesome and amazing and I can’t wait to steal ideas from all of you.
So yeah, it was amazing and awesome and inspiring and fun and hilarious. If you’re reading this and you weren’t there, start planning for next year. Harvey Mudd College in Los Angeles July 23-26th. TMC15 will be off the chain (do the kids still say that?). I’m off to enjoy my last week and a half of freedom. I will have two more posts in the immediate future, one about what I’m teaching this year (and with which books) and one about this project idea I want to start that I’m really, really, really excited about.